Steve Galen announces Bentonville mayoral campaign

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,353 views 

Steve Galen plans a campaign kickoff event on Thursday (June 20) from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Bike Rack Brewing Co. on Southeast Eighth Street in Bentonville.

Longtime Bentonville resident Steve Galen, who has lived in the city since 1996, is making his first run for public office this fall.

Galen told the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal he will challenge Mayor Stephanie Orman, the city’s top elected official since January 2019. Early voting in the general election begins Oct. 21. Election Day is Nov. 5.

“Bentonville is one of the most amazing places to live in the country, but we stand at a pivotal point in time,” he said. “We need to continue to promote growth while still protecting Bentonville’s distinct charm. To seize this moment, we need strong, professional leadership.”

Galen plans a campaign kickoff event on Thursday (June 20) from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Bike Rack Brewing Co. on Southeast Eighth Street in Bentonville.

Galen, 60, is confident that his extensive business background will be an asset in City Hall. With over 30 years of experience in the consumer goods industry, including his recent role as senior director at Bissell Homecare Inc., where he managed a $600 million business with Walmart and Sam’s Club, he believes he is well-prepared to lead the fast-growing city.

“To prepare the city for growth, we need someone with business experience to tackle the tough challenges we are all facing, like housing prices, traffic congestion and cost of living,” Galen said.

According to new estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau released earlier this year, Bentonville is the 168th fastest-growing U.S. city, with a 2.8% growth rate. Its population increased to 59,471 in 2023 from 57,873 in 2022. Also, Bentonville ranked as the 123rd fastest-growing U.S. city and the fastest-growing city in Arkansas from 2020 to 2023.

In 1990, the city’s population was 11,257.

Galen earned a marketing degree from Virginia Tech and an MBA from the George Washington University School of Business. He also has an honorary degree from NorthWest Arkansas Community College for community service.

Since moving his family to Northwest Arkansas, Galen has served on boards and committees for organizations like the Bentonville Library Foundation, Mercy Hospital Foundation, Best Friends Pet Resource Center and NorthWest Arkansas Community College. He has also co-founded and co-chaired initiatives that have raised millions for cancer research, crisis intervention, job creation, animal welfare and library expansion.

Steve Galen

Galen says he has the support and endorsements from former Bentonville mayors Bob McCaslin (2006-2018) and Terry Coberly (1994-2006).

“From my time as mayor, I know how important it is to have strong professional leadership in the mayor’s office,” McCaslin told the Business Journal. “I believe his experience in the private sector allowed him to develop strong professional leadership skills, skills he will use to manage Bentonville’s growth while bringing the city of Bentonville together.

“For the 20 years I have known Steve, I have found him to be a person of integrity and dedicated to his family. I am supporting Steve Galen’s bid to be the next mayor of Bentonville.”

Troy Galloway, the city’s community and economic development director for 20 years (1996-2016), also supports Galen’s candidacy. Galloway is a retired United States Army major general who last served as the deputy commanding general for the Army National Guard of the United States Army Forces Command from Aug. 1, 2021, to May 1, 2023. Galloway’s military duty took him to Kansas in 2016, but he has since returned to live and work in Bentonville.

Galloway said Galen is an experienced leader who will use his corporate experience “effectively and efficiently” to lead the fast-growing city.

“Steve Galen has a vision for our city that looks forward, values long-range planning and anticipates the policy and infrastructure requirements that are necessary to continue to be a place where people want to live, where they can benefit from economic opportunity and where they can continue to enjoy an exceptional quality of life,” Galloway said. “Most importantly, he will work collaboratively with our city council, our planning commission and other leaders in our community to solve our most pressing challenges.”

After serving as a City Council member for four years, Orman was elected Bentonville mayor in December 2018. She won 63.27% of the vote in a runoff election against Jim Webb, a former City Council member who worked for an outdoor toy company supplier. In the general election on Nov. 6, Webb (5,595 votes) and Orman (5,193) were separated by about 400 votes. John Skaggs, a retired municipal and district judge who served two terms on the City Council, was a distant third.

Before starting in her role as the city’s top elected official in January 2019, Orman was director of social media and community involvement for McLarty Daniel Automotive in Bentonville.

Candidates for municipal positions with a Mayor-Council form of government can file to run for office from July 31 until noon on Aug. 7.

The mayor’s annual salary in Bentonville is $149,255.