How long have you lived in Siloam Springs?
"Well, I am 56, so 56 years. I was born and raised here."
With the 2018 midterm elections approaching, there is a vacancy to fill for the seat representing citizens in Ward 1, as the current director of that ward, Steve Beers, has announced he does not plan on running again. This vacancy has prompted three individuals to attempt to replace Beers, and per city regulations, a primary must be held to narrow this number down to two candidates, who will move on to the general election in November. The primary will take place on Aug. 14, and names on the ballot will be Fares Trinidad, Mindy Hunt and former Siloam Springs Mayor David Allen. As part of an effort to help citizens make an informed decision in the voting booth, the Herald-Leader sat down with each of the three candidates to get a better understanding of who they are, their background and the way in which they might use that position to better quality of life for this ward and the community at large. During the interview process, although each candidate was asked the same questions, some of the questions have been modified due to their responses and follow-up questions that were asked. Listed below are the questions that were asked of the candidates along with direct transcriptions of their responses.
• Are you married with children or grandchildren?
"I am married with kids and grandkids. Between me and my wife together, I have got three kids and she has one, and one (of her kids) passed away, and she has two grandchildren and I have a new grandson."
• What are your hobbies/interests?
"I am a huge movie buff, and I read a lot and have been forever. Me and my brother were raised to read and and so we read a lot. I also enjoy going to Sager Creek Community Church. We go there."
• Are you involved in any civic organizations or engaged in any sort of civic programs?
"No, well I guess I am always a member of Rotary, I joined that many years ago but have not attended for quite some time. I helped found the Sager Creek Arts Center in 1984 and was on that board for a long time, but it is not around anymore. It should be, but it is not sadly. I used to be the chairman of the hospital foundation and so, I have been involved in several charities and philanthropic things over the years."
• What is your employment background?
"I own my own company, a film production company called Kismet Productions, and I joke around that I have had at least three careers in my life, but as long as I am moving up the stairwell, I feel like I am doing all right. But I worked at our family business since I was 11, Allen Canning Company. I left that in 1990 to start my own money management firm, just because I was really good at the stock market so I had my own firm for 10 years called the Kismet Group. I did that for 10 years, and then we sold our half of Allen Canning Company to my uncle Rick, and that is what allowed me to finally get into the movie business and finance my way in. I was on the city board from 1994 to 2002, but because I was going to L.A. (Los Angeles) more to produce movies, I decided not to run for a third term. So I had eight years there on the city board representing Ward 1, and then got off the board for six years. In 2008 when I was back here, really not going to L.A. much, our mayor was retiring after 20 years, and so I decided to run for mayor and I won, by six votes. It is very odd I know, it is crazy. The mayor's job was completely different than being on the board, but that was four years, and I decided not to run for a second term."
• What is your educational background?
"I graduated from Siloam Springs High School and went to the University of Arkansas for four years, and got a bachelor's of science in business administration."
• Can you name three strengths that you possess that make you a qualified candidate to represent Ward 1?
"I have got a lot of experience. I have 12 years on the city board. Even when I am not on the board, I have followed the city issues and have been involved in going to board meetings. I've been involved in committees and commissions around town and around Northwest Arkansas and in Little Rock as well. I just feel like I have the knowledge base, I know what people want to see done. I have a tremendous amount of people talk to me just at Walmart or at McDonald's or whatever. They either gripe, or they are happy about something and so I hear both (sides) of it, and enjoy participating in the conversation. That is really why I am running again, I have had so many people push me to get back involved, and said, 'Okay, well I'll try it again.' But, experience is the main thing. I have owned and still own several businesses, and understand how even a nonprofit organization like a city, still has to be operated like a business, and so I have that business leadership. So my experience with the city, and my leadership skills and then I think my openness to people communicating with me, I think just the ability for people to feel free to talk to me, knowing that I am going to listen and take exactly what they say to heart, and be very open-minded and cognizant of what they are trying to tell me, as to whether they like something or dislike what the city is currently doing."
• Aside from others encouraging you to run, were there any other motives that caused you to want to run again?
"Not necessarily, just really encouragement from family, friends and acquaintances around town encouraging me to get back into office. They know that I have had the experience involved in city government both as a city board member and as mayor, so I have just had that encouragement. I mean, more than even when I was encouraged to run for mayor. They have encouraged me more this time and so that is it really."
• What do you feel are the most important changes that need to be made to the city and/or Ward 1?
"I feel like no matter what, the board, as a governing body, is the final say to the taxpayer, to the citizens of the city. And, even though the city has a manager, a city administrator, he works for the board, and he himself is a public servant, but the board is the final say. And, I think the board has to always be aware that their first responsibility is to all of the citizens for the needs and necessities of life. That means public safety. That means sewer, water and electric utilities, that means streets and maintenance of the streets and then maintaining all of the above. That is my biggie, is that whatever the city does, they have to do it for everybody as a whole. You cannot do something that is just going to be applying to 10 percent of the population or 15 percent of the population. You really need to strive hard that it serves everyone, and really, as much as possible, those necessities of life be the number one thing. And, I am not seeing a lot of the street maintenance that should have been done over the years. I am frustrated to see our sales tax still so high. I argued when I was a board member and even more so as mayor, that our sales tax was one of the highest in Northwest Arkansas, and we do not have some of the expenses that some of the larger cities do. We should not be second only to Fayetteville in sales tax, we should be striving to keep the shopping here, in that people who spend money here are going to pay the sales tax, and they should not be paying a higher sales tax here if it can be helped."
• Has the issue of the sales tax been one of your primary issues for a long time?
"Yes. It frustrated me that we had two sales taxes in the last three years that came for a vote, and both were for specialty reasons and were sold to the public as 'these are not new taxes,' but they were new taxes. They absolutely were new taxes, because the taxes that they approved replaced a 10-year limited tax that was voted on by the public only for 10 years, and at the end of the 10 years, it was supposed to go away. And, the public would never have voted on those. I do not believe they would have supported them if they thought they were going to be forever. And, the reason for those 10-year taxes completely changed from the original reason when they were reinstated. The promise to the public needs to be fulfilled that if it is a 10-year tax, it goes away in 10 years. Don't pull the mat out from under the public after you have gotten what you want from the public."
• Is there anything else that you would like to add that I have not asked or that we have not discussed?
"No, I don't think so."
General News on 08/01/2018
Print Headline: City Board candidate David Allen