Friday, October 21, 2016

TOP STORY >> Beebe council race Q&A

Leader staff writer

Beebe Alderman Tracy Lightfoot is seeking re-election to Ward 2, Position 2 on the city council. He is being challenged by retired airman Donald Lewis. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Early voting starts on Monday in the White County Courthouse lobby in Searcy and at the Carmichael Community Center, 801 S. Elm St. There are no early voting sites in Beebe.

Tracy Lightfoot, 46, has been on the city council for four terms. Lightfoot is from a fourth-generation Beebe family. A life-long resident, Lightfoot graduated from Beebe High School in 1988. He graduated from the Commonwealth College of Funeral Service in 1990. Lightfoot has worked for Smith-Westbrook Funeral Home for 28 years, where he is a funeral director and embalmer.

Donald Lewis, 49, and his wife, Jene, have been married for 30 years. They have two grown children. He has lived in Beebe for 15 years and has been employed with AT&T for the past eight years. Lewis is a retired Air Force veteran. He retired after 22 years of service as a master sergeant, working in fuel- system repair. Lewis has an associate’s of applied science in aviation maintenance technology.

He is an active member of Open Arms Assembly of God and Beebe American Legion Post 91

Why do you want to serve as alderman for Beebe?

Lightfoot: Beebe has always been very good to me and the sense of community drives my passion to give back. I am in the community every day listening to the needs and wants of its residents. I know most of the population and that makes me a strong candidate to do the right thing. Helping Beebe be the best it can be is in my best interest and helping people is my strength as I have been in this role for four terms.

Lewis: The reason I want to serve as an alderman for Beebe is to be the voice of the people in our community. I believe that every person living in Beebe deserves to have their concerns heard and considered when making decisions for our city. I feel by partnering with the citizens, we can work together to continue making Beebe our “Dream Hometown.”

What do you think qualifies you for this position?

Lightfoot: I have been in leadership for many years which include, three terms as Beebe Chamber of Commerce president, 12 years on the Planning and Zoning Commission, Fall Festival chairman for multiple years, eight years as current alderman and was chosen Citizen of the Year by the Beebe Chamber of Commerce for 2016.

Lewis: I think the military leadership courses I have attended and positions held during my service in the Air Force is what best qualifies me for the position of alderman. I’ve managed accounts and large groups of people and have learned that through hard work, dedication and teamwork, you can achieve the task at hand.

What do you see as Beebe’s strengths and weaknesses?

Lightfoot: We have a very strong education system which includes great facilities, teachers and staff. The schools continue to be up-to-date for the betterment of the students. ASU-Beebe campus allows local youth to be able to transition into college right out of high school without the costly expenses of out-of-town tuitions. We are centrally located and have a great hometown feel for those who have to commute. We have also been named one of the fastest growing communities.

Seeing as we are one of the fastest growing communities we lack the tax revenue to handle the needs to build an effective infrastructure. Due to the growth we are lacking in commercial businesses to fulfill the needs of the people.

Lewis: I believe Beebe’s greatest strength is the people that live and work here. Their hospitality and sense of community are inspiring and is what makes Beebe a great place to live. Along with the people, our schools, Beebe School District and Arkansas State University at Beebe, are some of the best in the state. I believe an area that our city could see continued improvements is the width and condition of some of the streets in our city.

If elected what would be your top three priorities?

Lightfoot: I would work hard to add more first responders to health care needs which would include police and firefighters. Continue infrastructure enhancements already in place based on city needs from growth. Main priority is street paving.

Add more programs and activities for our youth.

Lewis: My number one priority as an alderman is to be the voice of the people of our community. This should be the most important job of any elected official. Second, I want to ensure that we have a plan for our future growth because our city is growing at a rapid pace. I believe the leadership of our city needs to have a plan to assure that our city’s foundation, which is the police, fire, EMT, street and water departments, grow with the city. My third priority would be to improve the conditions of our some of our city’s streets.

Why should residents vote for you and not the other candidates?

Lightfoot: My opponent is a very well-respected man in the community but lacks the political experience I have. I have attended many hours of municipal league meetings in which I have learned what it takes to run a city. I am the senior council member that has the knowledge of the past and present issues which will help educate the two new members that are incoming.

During my time on the council we have accomplished many things which include a new library, new animal shelter, new fire station on Hwy. 64 West, upgraded our parks which includes the new amphitheater, new fleet for the police department, a new fire truck, paving of streets, began the Fourth of July Celebration, a third Beebe exit and worked closely with Walmart’s opening. I ask for your trust and support by re-electing me so that I may continue making Beebe a better place to live.

Lewis: I believe the residents of Beebe should vote for me because I live by honor, integrity and service before self. I am trustworthy, dependable and just a man who loves people and believes in doing the right thing.

I have no previous political experience, but I think that is a strength and not a weakness. I have no preconceived agendas, only to listen to the concerns of the citizens of our city and make them known at the meetings. As alderman I would serve with honor and integrity, always putting the needs and desires of the people above my own.

I was not born and raised in Beebe, but rather chose to live and raise my family here. I want to be the leader that listens to the people and does it right. I would appreciate your vote.