Speaking of Ward 1...

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

Candidate Aaron Clarke showed up and showed out for the Rogers community in his answers to a questionnaire from the NWA Democrat-Gazette this week!

Full text of the article below:

Aaron Clarke (left) and incumbent Mark Kruger (right) are running to represent Ward 1, the northeast part of the city, on the Rogers City Council.

Two vie for Rogers City Council seat

by NWA Democrat-Gazette

ROGERS -- Incumbent Mark Kruger and Aaron Clarke are running to represent Ward 1, the northeast part of the city, on the Rogers City Council.

The council position is nonpartisan. Council members meet twice a month and earn $1,050 monthly regardless of attendance.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette emailed the same questions to the candidates. Their responses are below. Candidates were limited to 200 words per answer. Responses more than 200 words were ended as close to the limit as possible.

QUESTION: Council members are often faced with considering new developments in neighborhoods where the residents do not want the project. What will factor into your decision if a developer wants to build a multifamily development, business or other project in an area where residents oppose the development?

Kruger: Project density, growth comprehensive map, infrastructure, effect on community, common sense.

Clarke: My first priority would be to maintain the infrastructure of neighborhoods opposing these developments.

Are their street lights working? Do they have regular, uninterrupted access to power and water, internet, public transportation, groceries and small business employment opportunities? How efficient is traffic flow?

Then, I would look at property values in the area over time and parse that by area access to solid educational and financial resources.

We can't expect the city to thrive on the backs of low-income wage workers without sacrificing the quality of life that attracts new residents here. Multifamily developments are best placed where they will bolster, not impede, property value, and where the tenants of such developments can be reasonably accommodated by existing resources.

QUESTION: Rogers may not have as much sales tax revenue because of the covid-19 pandemic. What city departments and/or projects do you think the city should prioritize when it comes to funding, and which ones are your lowest priorities?

Clarke: Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure.

Our residents need access to alternative employment through online, remote-work opportunities and small business development. That means maintaining and building onto our infrastructural departments through contracts with Rogers-based businesses wherever possible.

It means pushing for state and federal grants to help us bridge the gap in broadband access. We want to keep the Rogers tax dollar in the Rogers economy wherever possible.

What I don't want to see is another beauty project funded by grants that could be better used in setting up outreach programs through our Parks Department; programs designed to keep kids in school and their parents rising through the ranks of employment and class.

Kruger: All are important. However, public safety is always first priority.

QUESTION: Should there be reforms in the Rogers Police Department? If so, please specify what should change, why and how the city can accomplish the reforms. If not, please explain why the department does not need reforms.

Kruger: Our police department is outstanding, and I am certainly not an expert in police matters.

I do know that our officers undergo constant training on everything from mass shooting to community relations.

I have complete confidence that our police chief and his administration will make any changes that might be needed.

Clarke: Rogers PD is doing its best. Its best could be better.

I'd like to see Rogers PD using body-worn cameras. I'd like to see the city make use of its mental health care apparatus to effect a pilot program, much like we've seen already in other US cities and towns, which pairs social workers with law enforcement officers in a full-time special response unit.

These are common-sense solutions to common-sense problems, and I do not agree with some of our leadership that body-worn cameras are best left to the Arkansas State Legislature to regulate if and when they get around to it.

The case for that argument simply isn't as strong as public outcry for more clarity and accountability from police agencies in general.

Rogers' chief of police seems to be a reasonable man willing to entertain civil discourse, and I am happy to take him up on that discourse any day of the week.

There are myriad existing departmental policies in Arkansas that already govern the use of body cams and the proper dissemination of body cam footage, and we should be an example for modern policing -- not an also-ran.

QUESTION: Why should Rogers voters elect you? What will be your priorities if elected?

Clarke: I want to grow Rogers sustainably.

That involves policing reforms, yes, but also small and local business prioritization, internet infrastructure advancement, recreational learning opportunities through our Parks Department and thoughtful zoning that weights quality of life over the density of a taxable population.

I want the Rogers dollar to stay in Rogers. I want to promote Rogers-based employers and access to alternative employment during covid-19 -- as well as reasonable access to remote schooling for children.

I want to avoid rent crises by promoting homeownership through education.

I don't just want these things; I can deliver them. The funding and strategies already exist, as evidenced by some of our neighbors and other cities across the country, and we can tailor those strategies to fit Rogers' unique demographic.

It will mean a lot of late nights, but I used to be club promoter so late-night strategy is nothing new to me! It's about us and how we choose to use our individual skills to better this city as a whole. As a team.

You should elect me because I know what I don't know, I know how to ask the right questions, I know when to listen, and I can differentiate a reason from an excuse.

Kruger: I believe that I am the best candidate for the job. I have no agenda. My priority is to continue to serve the people of Rogers.

Aaron Clarke

• Age: 32

• Residency: Less than a year in Ward 1

• Employment: Event promotion and social justice advocacy

• Education: General education development (GED)

• Political Experience: None

Mark Kruger (incumbent)

• Age: 72

• Residency: 40 years in Ward 1

• Employment: Retired prinicpal at Rogers Public Schools

• Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, University of Arkansas

• Political Experience: 32 years on Rogers City Council; current chairman of Rogers Advertising and Promotions Commission.

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