Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TOP STORY > >Aldermen candidates share perspectives and goals

Story by Joan McCoy • Leader staff writer

Only four of Cabot’s City Council seats have more than one candidate and in one of those contested seats, the candidate has said she won’t serve if elected.

Kelley Ivey—a candidate for the Ward 1, Position 2 seat now held by Eddie Cook who is running for mayor—says she realized too late to keep her name off the ballot because her position as manager of Home Depot would conflict with serving as alderman. The other candidate for the position is Kevin Davis.

Running unopposed are Ward 2, Position 2 Alderman Jon Moore; Ward 3, Position 2 Alderman Rick Prentice; Ward 4, Position 1 Alderman Ann Gilliam, and Ryan Flynn, candidate for Ward 4, Position 2.

Ward 1, Position 1

Eddie Long, 64, the incumbent, and his wife Norma, a retired Cabot school teacher, have been married for 40 years and have three children and two grandchildren.

They’ve lived in Cabot for 40 years. Long is retired from a public-sector job. “I currently have time to devote all the time needed to the citizens of Cabot,” Long said. “My wife and I also do voluntary work for CASA of Lonoke County.”

Shelley Tounzen, 33, and her husband, Brandon, a firefighter, have three children, Madison 10, Jenna 5, and Christian, 3.

“I have lived in Cabot for 33 years (minus three years during college),” she said.

She is a communications specialist for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Why do you want to be an alderman?

Long: I want to be re-elected to office to help finish projects and schedules that have already been started. The citizens of Cabot deserved the very best that can be done for them as a whole. I will work for every citizen.

Tounzen: I would like to see Cabot grow in a positive direction for my children and my fellow citizens of this great city.  

What experiences qualify you to be alderman?

Long: I have been a councilman since March 1997 except for one term. I have spent many full-time hours at work for the city.  I have not only worked for and with individual parts of city government but all parts of the city for the good of all of its citizens. I have led projects from start to finish.  I have authored and co-authored many ordinances and made sure they are in the best interest of the citizens of Cabot. 

Tounzen: I have worked at the AEDC for five years and have gained valuable knowledge of what it takes to bring industry into Cabot. I understand the tax system and will work with other city and county leaders to develop incentives to attract successful businesses to the city.

What are the most pressing problems facing Cabot and how will you work to solve them?

Long: The drainage projects that need to be finished and the traffic problems. 
Tounzen: In my mind, the most pressing problems facing Cabot are infrastructure and public safety. The city continues to grow, but support for public safety is inadequate. I have heard from many citizens who complain of not enough police patrols plain of not enough police patrols in their neighborhoods. Also, the Cabot Fire Department continues to operate short-handed, citing budget shortfalls.
If the city is going to continue to grow in population, we need more than property taxes to budget for increased police and fire protection and to improve our city’s infrastructure. That is where significant new industry would help.
What are Cabot’s strengths?

Long: Its faith, schools and citizens.

Tounzen: Cabot has an excellent school system and some of the most incredible residents anyone could ask for. The volunteer community is astounding and the pride folks feel for this city is remarkable. We should be proud of our system of government because each city council meeting is open to the public and we encourage them to come hear the business of the city and make their voices heard.

What would you like to see done to make Cabot more appealing to potential residents and businesses?

Long: A strong parks system; work to relieve the traffic congestion; work with the waste water commission to continue working to secure a viable water source for the community that is affordable to the citizens of the city especially the people on fixed income.

Tounzen: More advertisement of the city and its features would generate more interest for new residents. New businesses need to know about the available buildings we have in the city and the land that is commercially available. We are also in a prime location just 25 miles away from waterways, railways, airways and a highway system that connects all four borders of our country. New businesses and residents can also take advantage of a top-rated school system in Cabot.

Cabot has been called base housing north. How will you work with LRAFB? What relationship do you now have with the base?

Long: I have always been a strong supporter of the base. I will continue to work with the base to provide the very best possible community for the personnel and families that make Little Rock Air Force Base their home. I have been on the community council of the base and have made trips with the base to promote the city of Cabot.

Tounzen: I am happy that many of our service members choose to call Cabot home. I would work with the LRAFB in any way that is necessary to make Cabot a more welcoming place for military families. They serve our country honorably and we should be here to serve them. I do not currently have a relationship with base administration, but am more than willing to work with them. I do have friends and family who work on-base.

What one thing do you want voters to know about you and think about when they are making their ballots?

Long: I want the voters to know that I am a person of my word. I can say no as well as say yes if something is in Cabot citizens’ best interest.

Tounzen: I am the conservative candidate for alderman, Ward 1, Position 1, and will work tirelessly for the people of Cabot.  

Ward 1, Position 2

Kevin Davis, 40, and his wife, Karen, have lived in Cabot for 14 years and have one child.  

“I lived in Cabot previously for five years,” he says, “but I have lived in the surrounding area all of my life.  I have worked on the dock for a large trucking company for the past 18 years.”

His opponent, Kelly Ivey, has unofficially dropped out of the race, but her name is on the ballot. She declined to participate in the  Q&A.

Why do you want to be an alderman?

Davis: Cabot is a wonderful place to raise a family and call home.  I want to see that Cabot continues to progress for the benefit of our community.  We have great services, wonderful people and a good quality of life, and I want to make sure we maintain these elements as we continue to grow.

What experiences qualify you to be alderman?

Davis: I have led and served my company in focus groups to problem solve and brain storm ideas to help increase profitability the last several years.  I have served on various boards in my church and the community.  

What are the most pressing problems facing Cabot and how will you work to solve them?

Davis: One of the most pressing problems facing Cabot is there is no specific vision for the future of our city.  We need to develop a plan for what we want our city to be in the next 5, 10, 30 years.  I hope to work with a team to develop some sort of plan and vision for our city and develop a plan to reach these goals.  I know it will not happen overnight, but we need to have a plan and work towards it so our grandchildren will not have to face the same problems that we face today, such as infrastructure and developing a good commercial base.

What are Cabot’s strengths?

Davis: Cabot’s strengths revolve around family. Like I said before, Cabot is an excellent place to raise families. Our schools are outstanding, we have good recreational facilities that continue to improve, and the community cares about each other.  We have a strong faith-based community that is always ready to serve one another. These are wonderful attributes to have for a hometown.  

What would you like to see done to make Cabot more appealing to potential residents and businesses?

Davis: We need to make sure Cabot remains a family friendly city. Our schools work hard to offer the best education possible, and this is one of the biggest draws for families moving to Cabot. We have great sports programs, theaters, recreational activities and family events that allow our residents to stay in Cabot for entertainment. On the business side, I believe we need to develop a plan of what type of businesses we want in Cabot. We must work together to understand what our focus is and then pursue these businesses.

Cabot has been called base housing north. How will you work with LRAFB? What relationship do you now have with the base?

Davis: The LRAFB is very important to our city, and I believe we have done a good job developing a healthy relationship with the base. I look foward to continuing that relationship and supporting the LRAFB.  

What one thing do you want voters to know about you and think about when they are making their ballots?

Davis: I want voters to know that I will do my best to serve the needs of the citizens of Cabot.  I will strive to be educated on issues and will be honest in my decision making, and I ask that you allow me this opportunity to serve you.

Ward 2, Position 1

Kimberly Buchberger, 38, has lived five years in Cabot. She is married and has two daughters. Buchberger is the director of the nonprofit Hope’s Closet and Pantry. She sometimes subtitutes in the school district and occasionally interprets for deaf students. Her income goes to Hope’s Closet.

Patrick Hutton, 54, the incumbent, and his wife, Janet, have been married for 19 years. “We have no children,” he said. “I moved to Jacksonville in 1979 and have lived here in Cabot since 1997. I am currently employed by the Veterans Hospital and really enjoy working with the hospital staff as they strive to provide exceptional health care to our veterans.”

Why do you want to be an alderman?

Buchberger: I want to be an alderman so I can help Cabot on a different level. My work with Hope’s Pantry (a ministry of New Life Church) helps families that have fallen on hard times. Now I want to get in there and help make decisions for our whole city to continue to make it a great place to live.

Hutton: I am currently an alderman because I believe I can make a positive difference in our city’s operations and the quality of life of those people who live and transit through it. I am a service-oriented person. This can be seen throughout my life as I voluntarily joined the United States Air Force and gave the United States a great potion of my years. Before I even transitioned from the Air Force, I was involved in the Arkansas Institute for Performance Excellence. AIPE is a nonprofit organization that promotes performance excellence across the state of Arkansas in both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. I was appointed to the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority board of directors by Gov. Huckabee. This organization provides consultative services and funds to organizations wanting to improve operations and to bring new products from the idea/preproduction stage to production.

What experiences qualify you to be alderman?

Buchberger: Same answer as number 1.

Hutton: I believe my past experience on the council, along with my education, certification, and the leadership positions held while I was in the USAF and the other companies where I have worked qualifies me to be an alderman. My highest degree is a master’s of science degree in operations management from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. I achieved all of my formal education by attending night school. I received my certification from the American Society for Quality as a manager of quality/organizational excellence. I have also been a past board member of the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority.

What are the most pressing problems facing Cabot and how will you work to solve them?

Buchberger: We need to continue working on traffic issues. We still need to work on our drainage. A lot of great things have already been done but with a new mayor and council coming in, we need to continue to work on those issues.

Hutton: A) Enhanced police and fire protection. The city has areas with houses that are outside the five-mile limit from the nearest fire station. This affects our response times and our ability to serve the residents to the degree that the city should be able to and it may affect our insurance ratings if not corrected before the next survey. We have to build and equip an additional fire station that can better serve that area along with increasing the number of fire fighters on each shift at each station.

I believe that we need to increase our police force. We have had a couple concurrent accidents that stretched our resources and it is my belief that we need more officers on our second and third shifts. The city has received a grant that will assist in hiring three additional officers in the short term. However, this comes with a price that the city must plan for and budget for the positions after the grant monies has run out.

B) Infrastructure, including streets, drainage and sidewalks. I do not believe that there is any issue with water and wastewater issues as the water commission has both short- and long-range plans in effect to take care of the city’s future needs. Upgrading the city’s infrastructure can only happen with the city’s elected officials being fiscally conservative, effective planning, and by increasing revenue through enticing new businesses and people into the city.

C) Promoting the city in order to bring more businesses into the city.

Cabot will have problems meeting the needs of the residents in regards to the infrastructure unless we can bring in new residents and more importantly new businesses. New businesses will bring sales revenue and jobs.

My thoughts on the subject would be to engage the city of Cabot, chamber of commerce and the advertizing and promotion commission to more activity promote the city and its surrounding area.

What are Cabot’s strengths?

Buchberger: We have a phenomenal school system. We have great people and businesses in our community. The businesses work together and we have a great chamber of commerce.

Hutton: The city of Cabot has a lot to offer any organization that could be enticed to locate to Cabot.  We have highway access ability, several modes of transport that can be used to move supplies and products into and out of Cabot, ample availability of land on which a business can build upon, utilities that can supply any need, and residents and those of nearby cities who can fulfill any company’s employee needs.

Highway accessibility. Cabot is accessible by state highways 5, 38, 89 and 367. Interstate 67/167 runs directly through the community, from Little Rock toward Missouri with Interstate 40 and 30 only 17 miles away providing access to the neighboring states and the rest of the U.S.

Transportation. Many modes of transportation are available and conveniently located. Airport facilities are located in North Little Rock offering charter series to in-state or regional destinations, and the Little Rock National Airport, 22 miles away, offering commercial services directly to other regional facilities.

Little Rock’s river port is also 22 miles away on the Arkansas River. Officially called the Little Rock Port and Foreign Trade Zone No. 14, it includes barges, rail facilities, truck terminals, warehouses and material handling equipment.

Thirteen ICC common carriers and 14 contract carrier barge lines are available here, as is a slack-water harbor. 

The Arkansas River connects with the Mississippi River at the Arkansas-Mississippi state line, about 150 miles away.

From there it is only 300 miles south to the mouth of the Mississippi and New Orleans, one of the busiest seaports in the world.

Three motor-freight carriers service the Cabot area, and the Union-Pacific Railroad, which passes through town, provides railway service. Many more of these services are available within 20 miles of Cabot. In fact, the states’ largest trucking line and one of the largest in the mid-south, Arkansas Best Freight, is located in North Little Rock.

Employees. The city of Cabot is centrally located to pull employees from Little Rock, North Little Rock, Conway, Beebe and Searcy all within a 35-mile radius. This provides an ample supply of qualified and capable population pool to select employees.

Utilities. The city is positioned to provide any organization and the additional increase in population an adequate supply of water and wastewater.

The city receives electricity from two utilities with Entergy having decided to install a major substation in Cabot.
Land. There is an abundance of land that is readily available for development and is accessible to the highway system.

What would you like to see done to make Cabot more appealing to potential residents and businesses?

Buchberger: I think a strong mayor’s office is very important. We need a mayor who is very competent and confident. Enforcing the codes in our subdivision makes the town look better and makes it more appealing to people moving in.

Hutton: I would like to see us aggressively market Cabot as a city that has all of the services and infrastructure needed for a business of any size to come in and succeed. I would like people to know that the city is also working to improve its streets and sidewalks.

Cabot has been called base housing north. How will you work with LRAFB? What relationship do you now have with the base?

Buchberger: I’m very well connected to the base. I’m a military wife. My husband is fulltime military and I’m a member of the Little Rock Spouse Group. I’m also part of the Military Committee, which helps people decide what area they want to live in. I tell people they need to move to Cabot because we have great schools. We have nice subdivisions. There are some great people here. And there’s great shopping too.

Hutton: I have a good understanding of the base’s mission, needs and those needs of its airmen and spouses having been stationed at the base. I was stationed at Little Rock AFB for nearly 20 years of my 24-year career in the Air Force and was assigned to the many different flying units along with an assignment as the wing’s master instructor for quality. I still have many friends who work out at the base. The base and its military and civilian employees are a vital part of Cabot.

What one thing do you want voters to know about you and think about when they are making their ballots?

Buchberger: I want to serve their community in a positive way. And I will donate my salary from the council to Hope’s Closet.

Hutton: I am a fiscal and social conservative. I believe that the United States and Arkansas state constitutions should be interpreted as they were written. That city government should provide for those items the public cannot independently provide for themselves, such as police/fire protection and infrastructure (streets, water, and sewer).

City government should be fiscally responsible with taxpayer’s money. City government should be kept as small as possible and still provide for essential services. City government should not pass laws that it is unwilling to actively enforce. I am against any increase in taxes, fees, or pay increases for elected officials. I am a member of the McArthur Assembly of God Church and am a member of the NRA.

Ward 3, Position 1

Richard L. Cannon, 57, and his wife, Janice, have one daughter and three grandchildren. He has lived in Cabot for six years. He is president of Coulson Oil’s transportation division, ChiefSeahawk Transport, and director of safety.

Wendell Gibson, 29, is a graduate of Cabot High School class of 1990, Rhonda Gibson is my wife of 15 years, we have 2 children Blake 9th CJHS and Courtney 7th CJHS. I have lived in this community 29 years; I am also a local business owner, member of Old Austin Baptist Church and a member of Cabot Kiwanis.

My name is Angie Armstrong Hoschouer.  I am a 36-year-old single mom to an awesome son named Fox.  I have lived in Cabot most of my life. 

I graduated here in 1992 and love that my son goes to the same elementary school my brother and sister attended. He even had the same kindergarten teacher as my sister in law.

Our community and schools make this a great place to live.  I have also had the privilege of working in Cabot for about the last five years, first with Metropolitan National Bank and most recently with the Cabot Star Herald.

I am now planning to complete my degree while working for National Agents Alliance.

Why do you want to be an alderman?

Cannon: I want to serve the people of Cabot by being their voice and representing their concerns to bring effective change, prosperity and growth to Cabot.

Gibson: Cabot is my home and I have great pride knowing that. I see great potential in our community. I want to do my part in making this a safe and desirable place to live and do business.

Hoschouer: My parents instilled in me the importance of serving the community.  My mother Melanie has been a nurse in Cabot for over 20 years.  My dad Tom Armstrong has been on the Cabot City Council for the last eight years.  He has had to miss a lot of meetings due to treatment for brain cancer but has never lost his passion for seeking the best for Cabot.  I am running for his city council seat and I plan to follow his example in serving Cabot.

What experiences qualify you to be alderman?

Cannon: I have served in a city council capacity in the past.  I have 31 years of successful business experience and know how to achieve goals and acquire the needed resources to accomplish those goals. I believe in fiscal responsibility and am a strong advocate for a balanced budget.

Gibson: I have served on councils like Habitat for Humanity and understand the importance of working together for the common good. I have owned and operated my own business for over 16 years, and understand the daily operations of small business. With an open ear to my fellow citizens, I will be honored to speak on their behalf.

Hoschouer: I have over 15 years of strong business experience and a love of the community.  I have seen the struggles the city has faced and the difference it makes when the city works in conjunction with the schools, chamber of commerce, LRAFB, county, and others for the betterment of Cabot.  I have existing relationships with these groups and others and can’t wait to work with them to meet Cabot’s needs.

 What are the most pressing problems facing Cabot and how will you work to solve them?

Cannon: Traffic flow – I will support the development of a comprehensive plan for traffic flow and innovative funding to make improvements.

Drainage – Investigate and address resident complaints and work to fully resolve the issues.  Educate residents on long-term plans when issues cannot be resolved quickly due to funding restraints.

The lack of light industry and small business to support Cabot’s growth. Encourage small business owners to expand and attract new light industry by showcasing all Cabot has to offer through innovative leadership and willingness to work with new businesses to integrate into our community.

Gibson: I hear all the time about the traffic-flow problems, which should be addressed along with the cleanliness of our city as a whole. I would be pro-active in finding the “right” solutions to solve these issues.

Hoschouer: Traffic continues to be a problem that Cabot faces.  It is an issue we have to continue to correct in the present and plan for in the future as Cabot continues to grow.  Economic development is also an important issue for our community.  We need to work to draw businesses that employee larger numbers to Cabot and our surrounding areas, not only to provide jobs for our citizens but to provide customers for all our wonderful small businesses and tax revenue to provide for our continued growth and improvement in Cabot. 

What are Cabot’s strengths?

Cannon: Excellent school system, ample and affordable housing, and Cabot residents are hard working, friendly and kind.

Gibson: Community definitely! Our citizens are so benevolent and willing to help anyone who is in need. Our youth programs are hands down well above average. My children have grown up in these programs giving them an opportunity to learn from others that team work, integrity and respect for one another are key attributes for being successful.

Hoschouer: Schools, schools, schools!  How wonderful to wake up every day and know that no matter what school my son attends he will receive a great education and that if I need to work with the administration they will be ready to help.  I never walk into Southside Elementary without feeling like I am visiting with extended family who cares about Fox and me.  I hear similar stories about the other schools too.  What a blessing! 

We also have a wonderful group of builders and craftsman in Cabot.  My dad worked as a home inspector for years in Cabot and the surrounding areas and I personally know what a great group of people they are.  We are privileged to have this valuable industry in our community who build beautiful homes and businesses. 

We also have amazing volunteer organizations and churches in our community.  If you have a need, there is someone here to help you.  It makes me happy to call Cabot home.

What would you like to see done to make Cabot more appealing to potential residents and businesses?

Cannon: Improve traffic and road systems. Dissolve the perception that Cabot is “only” a bedroom community and show that Cabot can standalone and fully support its residents and businesses.

Gibson: There is always room for improvement, and one of the best ways to make that happen is to work with potential new business by first approaching them letting them know we are interested in them bringing their business to our community.

Secondly, encouraging our citizens to shop and do business locally. As for potential residents I would like to ensure them that we will provide our local police and fire with all they need to make this a safe and secure place to raise our families.

Hoschouer: The continued development of the park where our BMX track is located and sidewalks throughout the community add a big appeal.  Continued traffic relief definitely falls in this category.  I would also love to see some beautification efforts to make the community more appealing.

Cabot has been called base housing north. How will you work with LRAFB? What relationship do you now have with the base?

Cannon: I currently do not have a relationship with leadership at LRAFB but have worked as a liaison to a military installation in the past. I will work to establish rapport and open lines of communication so that we can work together in ways that benefit both the LRAFB and Cabot.

Gibson: It’s an honor to be called this, which is telling me one thing—that families across America that are stationed at LRAFB to serve consider our community to be a safe and secure place to call home. If ever called on by the LRAFB for help I would do what I could to help or assist them to meet their needs.

I currently have no relationship with the LRAFB other than family and friends who are serving, however I do and will always have a great respect and appreciation for the sacrifices of those who have served us along with their families.

Hoschouer: Working with LRAFB is to our mutual benefit.  We are privileged to have these servicemen and women as our neighbors and friends.  I would love to see us build a support system for families of deployed servicemen and women who step in to help fill the gap.

As a single mom I know the value of a good support system and have been blessed to have my family all here close to me.  But most of these families don’t have their extended family close by.

They need someone who is there to help them figure out what is wrong with the garage door or how to get three kids to three different activities on the same night. Dad retired from the military after over 20 years most of which was served at LRAFB.  We have a lot of family friends and neighbors from LRAFB.

What one thing do you want voters to know about you and think about when they are making their ballots?

Cannon: Being a relative newcomer to Cabot, I have no longstanding ties with any group or organization.  I will represent all the citizens equally and not just specific individuals or groups.

Gibson: I want them to know that I will speak for them. I am a concerned citizen as well and I care about what they care about. I am always willing to listen to what they have to say. I will strive to give the voters a voice in our community. Feel free to call me with any questions 501-605-3163. God Bless.

Hoschouer: Cabot is the home of my heart.  I want to preserve and improve it for all our families and will listen to your needs and desires when doing that.