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Five of six candidates speak to Council

by Annette Beard | April 18, 2023 at 10:00 a.m.
Annette Beard/Pea Ridge TIMES Matt Blood

Five of the six people seeking to be appointed to a vacant City Council seat spoke to the members of the City Council during the work session Tuesday, April 11.

One of the original seven applicants, Ashley Woodward Homsley, withdrew from consideration by email Monday, April 10.

Bob Cottingham, former council member, did not attend and said later he was unaware of the meeting.

Jessica Branham, who won election to the Zone 2 seat for the School Board, said she also wants to serve on the City Council. Others who applied for the vacancy on the City Council are Jesse Fryer, David Holiman, Lonnie R. Harrell and Matt Blood.

Holiman said he has lived in Pea Ridge about two years and was formerly on the IT department for the school district.

"I've always had an interest in local politics and wanted find a way to contribute," Holiman said. "This is a natural for me. I want to give back to community ... I want to give back in a way to shape it."

Fryer, who ran for the seat in 2020, said he received 1,181 votes (40% ). He said he and his family have moved three times since 2015, but chose to stay within the city every time. He said he has three children, two of whom are in school.

"We're going to stay here," he said, adding that he believes the loss in the election was God ordained as it provided him with an opportunity to be deployed.

"I've always dreamed of being deployed ... I felt like that by loosing, I was actually thankful, even though, I was certainly disappointed."

He said that the fact that he ran in 2020 shows his willingness to serve to "answer JFK's call to do something for my country."

Branham said she has three children and has lived in Pea Ridge since 2017. She said she believes the "town kind of went into a lull" and she wants to get involved to "make sure it feels energetic and that people come in and want to actually live here."

She said she wants to "forward our path of growth and help provide a change that doesn't distract from our town's beauty ... I want to see cows and beauty, yet don't want to see a lack of employment."

Harrell, assistant fire marshal for Benton County, said he has learned "how to do things on not much money" when working for the Fire Academy. He said he doesn't like hearing "that's just the way we've done things" and that change can be beneficial.

"I'm a huge public safety advocate," he said.

A native of Pine Bluff, he said, "I grew up in a town declining in a fast way ... I'm drawn to Pea Ridge. I want to be part of a city that's growing. Pea Ridge is growing in the right way ... I hope it doesn't grow so much that we outgrow the small town feel."

Blood said he thinks the city has grown in a good way and says it's extremely safe. He said northwest Arkansas is a hug and the growth will not be stopped. A realtor, he said he does not believe that is a hindrance to serving on the council.

"We've got to have numbers," he said. "Multi-family housing is a necessary evil. We have to have numbers to support businesses."

"We're missing an industrial park," he said.

Mayor Nathan See said the City Council would go into executive session at the Tuesday, April 18, meeting to discuss the candidates and then announce the selection.

photo Annette Beard/Pea Ridge TIMES Jessica Branham
photo Annette Beard/Pea Ridge TIMES Jesse Fryer
photo Annette Beard/Pea Ridge TIMES Lonnie Harrell
photo Annette Beard/Pea Ridge TIMES David Holiman

Print Headline: Would-be aldermen address City Council


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