EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second and final installment of candidate profiles in Texarkana, Ark., Board of Directors races. Early voting begins Oct. 22, and Primary Election Day is Nov. 6. The Gazette requested that candidates not exceed a character limit on each question to provide fairness and equality in coverage and article length. Aside from minor changes and editing, the candidate responses are being printed as submitted.
In this installment, the Ward 3 race is highlighted among incumbent Tim Johnson, LaTanya Blair and Steven Hollibush. Hollibush did not return a completed questionnaire to the Gazette. Board of Directors races are nonpartisan, meaning canddiates do not declare a political party.
Tim Johnson (incumbent)
Texarkana, Ark., Board
of Directors, Ward 3
Spouse, children and/or other family:
Was married to the late Darlene Johnson; Daughter, Maggie and Bryan Williams; four granddaughters: Chloe, 5, Mila, 5, Truvie, 20 months, and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Lannie Dayle.
Years a Texarkana, Ark., resident:
Highlight your top three degrees and/or educational achievements:
Jessieville High School 1976; BAAS, Texas A&M University-Texarkana 1999; MS, Texas A&M University-Texarkana 2002.
List your current job/employer and your top three occupational achievements:
Director, Ward 3, Texarkana, Ark.; retired systems technician, AT&T
Highlight the top three examples of your civic or community service:
Served on the Ashdown School Board, past president. Served as deacon, First Baptist Church, Ashdown, Mason.
Highlight the top three examples of your political experience:
Elected to the Ashdown School Board two terms. Elected to Board of Directors, Texarkana, Ark.
Why are you running for office?
I want to make a positive difference in our city by serving on the Board of Directors. Drawing from the personal, educational, professional experiences of my life, and having served four years as Director of Ward 3, the relationships I have cultivated in all departments of the city enables me to serve more effectively.
What are your top three goals if elected?
Make sure your tax dollars are spent wisely and legally. Continue working on economic development and focus on the retention and expansion of businesses currently in Texarkana, Ark. Maintain and beautify our parks, streets and neighborhoods.
What are the three most important issues facing the city?
Revenue generation. Attracting new businesses. Improving our infrastructure.
How do you propose addressing those issues?
Start by continuing to seek out and recruit industry that will provide good paying jobs for our talented workforce. By completing plans to expand and build a new terminal at our airport we signal to business and industry we welcome growth and new opportunities. By continuing to seek federal and state dollars to resurface roads and improve drainage, e.g., the recent resurfacing of Broad Street north of town, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Streets resurfacing is now complete with plans and dollars in place to resurface 19th Street and others.
What are the most important issues specific to your ward?
1. Ward 3 has a sizable portion of geography in a flood plain. Improving drainage and flooding issues is important to the safety and quality of life for residents of Ward 3. 2. We need continued street improvement the Rondo Community and in the older sections of Ward 3. 3. Ward 3 also needs job growth and expansion.
How do you propose addressing those issues?
1. The flooding and drainage issues in Ward 3 are being addressed now. We have already contacted and had site visits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to view these issues and suggest plans of improvement. 2. Grants and state monies have been utilized to pave Broad Street north of town, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Streets have already been resurfaced and city staff continues to seek out grant monies for future street work. 3. (See below.)
What should the Board of Directors do to stimulate economic development and bring new jobs to Texarkana?
The current board and city administration have made vast improvements to codes and ordinances making it easier to do business in Texarkana, Ark. Outdated ordinances and codes have been revised and updated. Derelict properties are being demolished and cleared, a total of 51 in the four years I have been on the Board, thus allowing them to be sold and returned to tax generating properties. This Board of Directors has approved and endorsed every opportunity for new business or industry to locate here. We have been proactive in quickly removing any roadblocks that might hinder a new industry or business opening here.
What should be done to increase local voter turnout and encourage more candidates to run in city elections?
Personally, I carry voter registration forms with me and I assist those who wish to be able to vote in registering. I encourage those I come in contact with to exercise this privilege. Cultivating an atmosphere of civility in our campaigns and elections can lead to removing the negative stigma attached to political races.
If elected, would you revisit the decision to rename Hobo Jungle Park? What, if anything, would you propose regarding the park?
The park has been renamed; let's move forward. Place a memorial plaque. Plans and funding to the tune of $300,00.00 is in place to totally renovate the park with new restrooms, concession stand, officials room, field and seating improvements. Half of this money was from a state grant, the other half was provided by A&P.
What, if any, city programs or personnel would you add or eliminate, and why?
I do not know of any city programs I would be in favor of eliminating. As for additions, I have always been and continue to be open to communication from residents regarding this. Consideration to the city's budget must be taken into account prior to adding any new programs.
How satisfied are you with the transparency of city government? What, if anything, should the Board of Directors do to improve transparency?
As with any facet of city government, there is always room for improvement. I believe that over the past four years we have seen significant improvements over the city's past with regard to transparency. Looking to the future, I believe we can and will continue to become better at listening and hearing what the citizens say.
What role should city government play in financing and promoting downtown festivals such as RailFest and Mardi Gras?
In the four years I have served on the BOD, the city has not provided any financing for downtown festivals. All funding for the two listed events was provided by the A&P Commission. The Parks Superintendent and crew provide assistance in setting up barricades and cleanup afterwards. The Park Supt position is funded by A&P.
If elected, what would you do to promote civility among board members and throughout city government?
I believe we have civility among board members now. We may not always agree on every issue and occasionally a voice may be raised, but we are respectful to each other. We have been able to accomplish this by listening to each other and trying to understand when we disagree. This current board works well together.