FARMINGTON -- Former council member Terry Yopp is challenging the incumbent, Diane Bryant, for the Ward 4, Position 1 seat on Farmington City Council.
Bryant has served as a City Council member since 2015. Yopp served the city of Farmington for about 15 years, first as a Planning Commission member, then as a council member for 10 years.
Farmington City Council members serve four-year terms, with staggered terms. For the Nov. 3 general election, Position 1 for each ward is on the election ballot. Ward 4, which covers the southwest part of the city limits, is the only contested race in Farmington. The other incumbents on the council are unopposed.
While the two are seeking to represent Ward 4, all registered voters in Farmington will have the opportunity to cast a vote for either of the candidates.
City Council members receive $225 for regular meetings and $75 for special meetings.
Bryant, 71, lives in Valley View Estates subdivision and is a retired school librarian. She earned a bachelor of science degree in education from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and a master of science degree in Ed Administration from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan.
Terry Yopp, 60, lives in Twin Falls subdivision and is senior director of environmental health and safety for Pace Industries in Fayetteville. He is a graduate of Arkansas State University with a bachelor of science degree in physics and has an associate of applied science in solar technology from Mississippi County Community College.
The Washington County Enterprise-Leader emailed the same questions to both candidates. Their responses are below.
Question: Why are you running for this position?
Yopp: We moved here in 1994 to raise our kids and during that time I was fortunate enough to serve on the Planning Commission and City Council. After our kids were grown, we bought a farm outside the city limits and I had to resign my position on the council. Now that we have moved back to Farmington, I want to work on making sure that we build a better community for all our residents, make informed decisions on planned future growth and development. We made a conscious decision to move back here, to a wonderful small-town community environment that provides many opportunities for the residents and their families, the city motto is true, "Farmington Feels like Home."
Bryant: I enjoy living in Farmington and working for the people of Farmington. They are friendly and resourceful. They value living in a hometown that is safe, healthy, and progressive for children and their neighbors. I would like to continue working to keep this lifestyle for all of us. I would like to see our town be among the top "Great Small Towns of America." We can achieve that goal by involving citizens in long range planning and thinking outside the box.
Question: Have you previously served in public office?
Bryant: Farmington City Council, 2014 to present; Washington County Quorum Court, District 10, 2013-2014.
Yopp: Farmington City Council Member, Ward 4, 2005-2014; Farmington Planning Commission for 5 years, commission chairman, 2002-2005.
Question: List what you believe are your qualifications to serve in this position?
Yopp: My previous 13 years of government experience as well as my workplace experience have taught me that the most important thing is to listen to what the people's concerns are, and gather all the information I can to make a good informed decision to try and help solve an existing problem. Planning well for our future growth to make sure there are as few problems as can be anticipated. I believe in making a decision that is good for the citizens regardless of my personal opinion. I have human resources experience as well as audit and finance experience and as our city continues to grow, I believe I can help make sure we are compliant and have all the current policies in place as well as continuing to budget responsibly. I have also served on my church's budget and finance committee.
Bryant: As an incumbent with six years of experience, I understand the challenges of living in a rapidly growing city. With this growth, tough choices must be made regarding our infrastructure, roadways, staffing, plus fire and police protection. All these additional needs will require careful attention to the City's budget now and in the future.
Question: Farmington is seeing major growth in housing. What do you believe the city needs to do to be ready for this population growth in the next five-10 years?
Bryant: We need a master plan for regulating traffic at our growth epicenters. There will soon be a new subdivision south of Highway 62 on Angus and east of Grace Lane and Folsom Elementary. This will bring additional traffic to those intersections. There are also new subdivisions off Double Springs Road and Broyles that will present similar traffic issues. In addition to a plan for dealing with the increased traffic, we also need our traffic lights timed all along Highway 62 from Rupple Road in Fayetteville to the stoplight by our Walmart so cars traveling the correct speed would not have to stop at every light. We also need a master flood prevention plan that is much stricter than the FEMA Flood Plain maps. We are having a 100-year flood about every three years with damage to people's homes. This needs to stop.
Yopp: I believe that managed growth is the key to Farmington's success, the decisions that we make today are going to affect generations to come. Having served on the Planning Commission for many years, I know the level of dedication and experience that it takes for that role. Farmington has highly skilled Planning Commission members who work diligently in their efforts to manage that growth effectively. As a city council member, it is critical that we work with them in their efforts and that we support them in that process. With the projected growth I believe that public safety and the development of new streets will be very crucial. Keeping the Fire Department and Police Department adequately staffed with current equipment is a must.
Question: If elected, do you have any goals as a City Council member for the city in the next four years in office?
Yopp: My goal is to always have an open door for our citizens to come to for information or help solve a problem. I want to work together with Mayor Penn, Council Members and Planning Commissioners to continue to keep Farmington a safe and progressive city to call home. I would like to help develop a program to market Farmington as a place for companies to relocate to along with the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Committee. Our proximity to the University of Arkansas and I-49 make a very desirable location. I would like to see our trails developed at Creekside Park to be able to hook on to the Razorback Greenway.
Bryant: Recruit businesses that will expand employment and shopping opportunities for us. Also, I would like to see us attract a business park plus a new hotel. I would also like to continue working toward expanding our trail system to Fayetteville. With the expansion of Interstate 49 in a few years there will be a tunnel under I-49 for pedestrians and bikers, making it easy to get onto the Razorback Greenway. A trail head in Farmington which leads to Kessler Mt. would also be an asset to our community. Our high school could offer mountain biking or cross country running to our students. Plus, many in this community would enjoy an access point to Kessler from Farmington.
Question: Any other information you would like to add?
Bryant: As chair of the community development/economic development committee, I feel we have had a positive impact on our city. That committee began the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Each year we organize the Fall Festival which many residents attend, and numerous vendors display their wares. We distributed free daffodil bulbs to city residents to create city-wide beauty in the spring.
With the leadership of our local pastors we are responsible for the Community Mayor's Prayer Breakfast. I also work actively with my church, the Farmington Library Board and with the Farmington Garden Club on projects that benefit the people of Farmington.
Yopp: Serving the citizens of Farmington as a Council Member is a job I take very seriously and the decisions made in the next few years are going to impact Farmington for generations to come. I want to make sure we grow the right way and that we ensure the current citizens of Farmington keep the quality of life they moved here for. I have been an active member of my community, my school and my church. I look forward to serving and giving back to a place that has been so good to my family.