Here’s the good news: Whoever wins the Nov. 6 mayoral election in Fayetteville, the city will be in competent hands. Both current fi rst-term Mayor Lioneld Jordan, who served as alderman during his opponent’s eight years as mayor, and Dan Coody, whom Jordan defeated in a runoff election four years ago, can do the job. The real question for voters is one of management style and ideas.
Lioneld Jordan deserves a lot of respect for maintaining city government during crises that included a dramatic economic slump and a crippling ice storm. His aff able personality and focus on inclusion of citizens and city staff deserve high praise. When it comes to making people feel good, Jordan gets high marks. Jordan is visible at practically any gathering of any size in town, where he can passionately proclaim “I love this city.” And it’s clear that he means it.
Everybody likes Lioneld Jordan, including us. If the election is just a popularity contest, Jordan will win hands down.
We hope the voters of Fayetteville want more.
Jordan has said crises like the ice storm didn’t allow him the luxury of a “vision,” the lack of which is the biggest criticism of the current administration. Every other larger city in Northwest Arkansas faced the same challenges as Fayetteville. Yet each of them appear to have more momentum for the future than Fayetteville.
What can Fayetteville point to under Jordan’s watch as major new initiatives to drive the community’s future? A parking system on Dickson Street and back-in parking on Block Avenue.
Fayetteville is full of people with diff erences. When city government makes its central role one of peacemaker, of focusing on getting along more than stepping out in leadership, its residents get this: No rocking the boat lest someone feels uncomfortable.
Without vision, a community can function but it won’t seize opportunity. Without vision, there’s no such thing as moving Fayetteville forward unless one is only measuring the passage of time.
Whatever happened to notions of Fayetteville leading Northwest Arkansas, of Fayetteville being on the cutting edge of university research-based technology companies, of Fayetteville as not just the Athens of Arkansas but the Austin of the region?
Dan Coody promises a return to days when Fayetteville wasn’t afraid to dream big dreams and pursue them. His biggest challenge with some voters is convincing them he can be believed.
We wish Coody had the relationship skills of Jordan. He says he’s mellowed a bit and, having had four years to ponder his leadership style, will work differently this time. We hope that’s true.
We know this: Had Coody not been successful in his eight years as mayor, much of what Jordan touts wouldn’t have existed.
Coody believes in Fayetteville, too, and knows any serious positive change for the future can sometimes rock the boat. The only way not to rock the boat is to stand still.
Coody will tackle the downtown parking that has changed the experience of one of Fayetteville’s greatest assets for the worse.
He’ll look for solutions beyond government, seeking common ground with the private sector to meet public needs in eff ective ways.
Coody believes Fayetteville’s place in history has never been cemented by maintaining the status quo. The University of Arkansas exists in Fayetteville because of visionary, strong leadership that some no doubt viewed as too risky.
Fayetteville deserves leadership that seizes, or even creates, opportunity. Perhaps the last four years needed a even-handed, go-along-to-get-along kind of leadership to navigate less-than-robust economic times. But the town doesn’t want to get stuck there.
Dan Coody is the best fit for the future.