Fort Smith Board of Directors will consider candidates to fill the Ward 3 director seat at a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday (March 28) at the Fort Smith Public Schools Service Center.
Six Ward 3 residents requested to be considered for the position. The seat was left open when Mike Lorenz stepped down effective March 12 because he and his family moved to Oklahoma City because a job promotion that required relocation.
City ordinances allow the vacancy to be filled by Board appointment. It also allows for directors to call a special election open only to Ward 3 residents. That election would cost about $15,000 and, following all correct election requirements and procedures, could not be held before July, information provided by the city clerk’s office states.
Following a “winner take all” election, a 10-day period is required for certification of election results, meaning an elected Ward 3 Director replacement likely could not be seated before August if election were the way the seat was filled.
All six remaining directors called for the special meeting in order to interview those requesting consideration for appointment to fill the unexpired Ward 3 term. Upon completion of interviews, the board will convene into executive session to consider appointment. If an appointee is determined, he or she will be confirmed at the April 2 regular meeting and take office immediately. The position will be up for election in 2020.
Those who will be interviewed are:
• Robert Brown, a financial planner/advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., in Fort Smith;
• Jeff Burks, programmer at ABB/Baldor in Fort Smith;
• Matthew Holloway, retired Fort Smith Police corporal;
• Lavon Morton, retired senior vice president-risk ad chief audit executive at ArcBest;
• Jack Swink, owner and operator of Swink Appraisal Services, Inc.; and
• Dr. Taneka Tate, principal at Carnall Elementary School in Fort Smith.
Brown said he is interested in the position because he wants to do what is best for Fort Smith and its residents. He has a conservative view and would use his financial experience and background to evaluate how the city spends its money.
“I will look out for the tax payers, not special interest groups,” Brown said. “I hope to bring over 35 years of experience as a business owner and entrepreneur to the Fort Smith City Board of Directors. I will bring objective reviews of current issues and implement strategical long-range planning to address any potential future issues. I will assist in locating inefficient use of city funds and advise on ways for those funds to be appropriated correctly.”
Brown said in his cover letter to the board, noting his extensive training in financial planning, long-term asset management, long-term goal setting and creating plans to achieve those goals as assets that would help the board.
Burks has held many jobs in his career, he said. He loves the music venues in the city and the talent they bring to Fort Smith, enjoys the festivals in the city and appreciates that Fort Smith Mayor George McGill is involved and moving Fort Smith Forward.
“As a Ward 3 (representative), I have a vested interest in the golf course and the community as a whole,” Burks said. “We want the best for everyone. What that outcome is remains for us to decide together. “(I) want to see us have a voice in the right direction. These board members anguish over the right decision, and I commend them. We all have opinions. Doing right is hard.”
In his memo to the board, Burks said his 29 years of IT experience as well as the experience of owning his own business would help him in the position.
“Working for a large global company, I have a better idea of what it takes to get corporations excited to come to a new area and bring new investments,” he said in his memo.
Holloway works in asset protection for Walmart, where he is in charge of all safety issues at the Supercenter where he works. He is a retired corporal of the Fort Smith Police Department and worked for the Sebastian County Sherriff’s Office and the Charleston Police Department.
While he was with the FSPD, he was involved in all budget meetings from 2012-2017 and attended most Fort Smith Board of Directors meetings for two years.
“I spent 27 years, most of my adult life, serving the citizens of Fort Smith. I lived in the city most of my life and have raised five children and understand what it is like to work, live and serve this city,” Holloway said in a memo to the board. “I believe that I am uniquely prepared to work with the Board, the Mayor and City Staff to resolve the current issues at hand.”
Morton retired as senior vice president – risk and chief audit executive at ArcBest in December 2016, following a 20-year career with the company. He continues to work with the company as a consultant on a project basis, though he does not work full time. His association with ArcBest began as an Ernst & Young staff accountant in 1972 and continued in various roles throughout his career at E&Y, where he served as audit engagement partner and tax partner. Morton joined ArcBest in 1996 as assistant treasurer and became vice president – financial reporting in 1997. He later served as vice president – tax and chief internal auditor before he was promoted to senior vice president – risk and chief audit executive in 2010.
He was appointed to the Audit Advisory Committee for the city in 1999. His term will expire in November. This experience, along with the experience he has gained from serving on the boards of several non-profit organizations over the years will help him on the board, Morton said. Morton’s experience as a certified public account also will be a plus if he is appointed, he said.
“I think my lengthy experience with the Audit Advisory Committee will help me adjust to being on the board quickly,” Morton said. “We have lived in Fort Smith for 22 years. Fort Smith has been great to us.”
Swink has been the owner and operator of Swink Appraisal Services, Inc., since 1992, conducting residential appraisals throughout Sebastian, Crawford, Washington and Benton Counties. He says he was born and raised in Fort Smith and has a love for the city and the people.
“I have deep roots in Fort Smith and want to do everything I can to ensure Fort Smith is once again a great place to raise a family and call home,” Swink said in a memo to the board.
He manages Take Back the Fort, according to his Facebook page.
“It is clear there needs to be more balance on the board. When the mayor and all but one of the directors supports an additional sales tax, at a time when the residents of Fort Smith face the highest water/sewer rates allowed by law and clearly the highest in the State of Arkansas and the sales tax is defeated by a 65-35% margin, it tells me that most directors are not in touch with the working class of Fort Smith,” he said.
Tate said she is “prepared and excited about the possibility of collaborating with students, parents, business owners, city officials and community members to facilitate a great city that will nurture and inspire all to become successful citizens and Fort Smith a better place.” She has spent the last 17 years working as a teacher, assistant principal and principal helping to mode Fort Smith’s youth.
“I am always seeking new methods, new strategies and new networks to help me and all of those involved grow personally and professionally,” Tate said in her memo to the board. “The education, experiences and networks acquired have enabled me to make a positive difference in the lives of adults and future generations, and I am ecstatic about it.”