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Day two of our endorsements in key political races within Benton and Washington counties offers an opportunity to provide voters feedback on candidates for city councils in Fayetteville and Rogers.

Early voting begins today (to see locations for the two counties, visit Election Day is Nov. 6).

Voters should cast their ballots based on their own knowledge of candidates and the needs of their communities. It's not our goal to tell people how to vote. This newspaper doesn't get a vote. But based on interviews, candidate-provided information and news coverage of races, our editorial board offers its thoughts as one factor to be considered.

As we noted Saturday, informed voters need to make sure they cast their ballots. The only wrong decision for a registered voter is to not vote.

Fayetteville City Council

Ward 1, Position 1

Adella Gray has represented the people of Ward 1 since 2007 but this year decided against seeking another term. That opens the door for three city residents who want to succeed her: Sonia Gutierrez, Kris Paxton and Olivia Trimble. All three are good candidates, but we give the edge to Gutierrez, who challenged Gray four years ago. Gutierrez said she'd like to focus city resources on assuring the availability of affordable housing, making sure development fits existing neighborhoods, reduction of traffic congestion and improved crossing of Archibald Yell Boulevard, reduction of homelessness and control of the deer population. She also says she will devote attention to attracting businesses that value people and the environment. Gutierrez appears prepared to take on the responsibilities of representing the people of Ward 1.

Ward 2, Position 1

Mark Kinion, 61, is completing his second four-year term representing Ward 2 on the City Council and has embraced the role with an earnest commitment to finding pragmatic solutions to Fayetteville's challenges. He's challenged this year by Raymond Douglass Burks, 34, and Martin Bemberg, 30, but we heard no compelling argument for the voters of Ward 2 to dismiss Kinion for the inexperience of the other two. Kinion will never be voted "most exciting campaigner," but nobody can question his thoroughness and reasoned analysis as a member of the City Council. He doesn't mind -- in fact, enjoys -- getting down into the details that escape the attention of others in city government. Fayetteville has an experienced council member in Kinion and his challengers have shown no reason the voters would do better by replacing him. Bemberg, a self-identified radical democratic socialist, has offered a relatively minor campaign but on positions, such as abolition of police, that would not serve Fayetteville well. Burks' pledge to vote against any "big development" is too much of a blanket pre-decision to serve the community's needs.

Ward 3, Position 1

Sloan Scroggin, 34, and Lucas Regnier, 44, will vie in this election for the Ward 3 seat being vacated by Justin Tennant. Scroggin appears to be a better fit for the ward, expressing a desire to balance infill growth while making sure new development isn't "plowing through" existing neighborhoods; a push for top-quality jobs so people who want to live in Fayetteville don't have to commute elsewhere to achieve their professional goals; a commitment to police and fire needs for public safety; and a focus on intersection improvements rather than relying on wider roads. Regnier has adopted some bold positions, namely a preference for building a costly aquatic center through a bond issue that would come at the expense of other more thoroughly evaluated parks issues; and what he said would be a tendency to favor "ecological value" of wooded, private property such as Markham Hill when facing a development decision.

Ward 4, Position 1

The race for this Ward 4 post pits incumbent John La Tour, 62, a CPA/tax attorney and advocate for limited government that's rare in Fayetteville city government, against challengers Teresa Turk, 57, a fisheries biologist and environmental consultant who moved to Fayetteville six years ago, and perennial candidate/local character Adam Fire Cat. La Tour would be focused primarily on ensuring basic city services are strong and government stays out of many issues. Turk, conversely, appears ready to use government to advance her policy choices, whether it's adding a surcharge for people who want to use plastic bags at local grocery stores, developing light rail in the region or waiving building fees for people who want to install solar panels on their homes. Our editorial board did not come to a conclusion on a recommendation in this race.

Rogers City Council

Ward 1, Position 1

Buddy Wright's tenure on the Rogers City Council has lasted 16 years. His decision not to seek re-election uncorked pent up political energy in the ward, where four candidates hope to be the winners of voter support in the Nov. 6 election to replace Wright. The contenders are Mandy McDonald Brashears, 37; Clint Hopper, 39; Rick Stocker, 65; and Shawn Wright, 40. Voters can confidently cast a ballot for any of these four contenders and feel good about it. We recommend Brashears, a Walmart senior director of human resources who has lived in Rogers 12 years. That may seem brief compared with someone like Stocker, who has lived in the city 55 years. But Rogers is a town with a diverse population. There's a strong argument that the City Council can benefit from a voice of a transplant who has similar experiences to a large part of its population. Brashears has a good business background and wants to ensure the city balances the needs of business with the needs of residents of all kinds, both new and old. She will bring a good perspective to the Rogers City Council.

Commentary on 10/22/2018

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