Fayetteville Ward 2 candidates Kinion, Moore talk about their backgrounds in appeal to voters

Mark Kinion (left) and Sarah Moore
Mark Kinion (left) and Sarah Moore

FAYETTEVILLE -- The two candidates for City Council Ward 2, Position 1 made their cases Thursday to represent downtown residents.

Mark Kinion, who has served on the council since 2011, debated Sarah Moore, a community activist who is seeking the council seat. The hourlong forum was held at the Fayetteville Public Library and organized by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.

Kinion, 65, said the city likely could soon become the largest in the state. He touted his experience in serving residents publicly on the City Council and privately in the biotech industry. Kinion said he sees three main facets of public administration in social, economic and environmental impacts on residents.

"You can do a simple Venn diagram of that, but of course it's never that simple," he said. "Everything interacts, and one thing leads to another."

Kinion said he loved serving as chairman of the council's Water and Sewer Committee -- the "least sexy" committee a council member can serve on, he said. He described himself as having a background in science and as an environmentalist.

Kinion also served as a senior executive of a Fortune 500 company and as president and chief operations officer for a small family business in biotech. He said he considered himself an "operational person" and good financial manager, also having served on the city's audit committee.

Moore, 42, described a shift in her life trajectory after she and her partner lost their first child. After having two "rainbow children" -- the term for having a child after losing one or more children because of medical reasons -- Moore became active in the local parent-teacher organization, she said.

Moore said she also has a family member with medical illness who struggled finding help. The experience pushed her to advocacy work, and she now serves as executive director of the nonprofit Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition.

"Whenever I see that there is opportunity for improvement, there's a motto our family lives by -- 'If not me then who?'" she said.

Moore said the city needs to focus more on community investment, championing people of diverse backgrounds and having more inclusive communication with residents. She said she has knocked on more than 2,000 doors and heard from people who are unsure they will be able to continue living in the city because of rising rents and a lack of access to services.

Both candidates agreed population growth presents the most significant challenge to the city. Kinion emphasized partnerships with organizations to come up with specific projects to alleviate housing costs. Moore said evidence-based approaches and equity in policy should guide decisions related to growth.

The nonpartisan election is Nov. 8. Early voting begins Oct. 24. Only residents who live in the ward can vote for those council members.

What’s my ward again?

Ward 2 includes the Dickson Street entertainment area and the downtown square. Other notable landmarks include Wilson Park, the historic Washington-Willow neighborhood, Lewis Park, Woodland Junior High School and the University of Arkansas campus east of Garland Avenue.

Source: NWA Democrat-Gazette