I’m pleased to announce the endorsement of Fayetteville Fire Fighters IAFF Local 2866!
I’d like to thank the Fayetteville Flyer for their recent article detailing my candidacy for re-election to City Council. Here are their questions and my answer about the issues that will be facing Ward 2 and the city over the next four years.
Vote Tuesday, November 6!
Why run for re-election? Is there anything in particular you want to introduce or continue working toward?
Fayetteville is at a critical juncture when it comes to things like affordable housing, smart growth, protecting our environment, and carefully shaping the future of the city. During my time on the council, we’ve launched a number of important projects, plans, services and programs, based on the input of the people of Fayetteville. These include the Fayetteville First Economic Development Plan, the Solid Waste Initiative and Master Plan, the Long Range Water Plan, the Fayetteville Energy Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gases, and our Welcoming Plan for immigrants and newcomers. Now, there’s the opportunity to build on these plans to make a better city for everyone with good jobs, clean water and a healthy environment, that meets the needs of a diverse population.
No doubt on the forefront of everyone’s mind is how we are to handle affordable and accessible housing. Some say nothing is being done. In fact, the City of Fayetteville has often been the only local government that has stepped up to keep services running and shelters open. Last year, the city helped the Seven Hills Homeless Center keep its doors open when it was in financial crisis. Through Partnership for Better Housing, which I helped found over 10 years ago, we’re seeing a mixed residential development of market rate and subsidized housing take shape in South Fayetteville at Willow Bend. This was a partnership with the Fayetteville Housing Authority. As this project takes shape more money will be generated to expand the mission. There is renewed interest in managing other partnerships with the Fayetteville Housing Authority which I see as a positive step in helping folks find safe and accessible shelter.
We must continue to work diligently with smart growth initiatives that don’t sacrifice the unique heritage of the town I love. Historic Preservation absolutely must be a key element in protecting well established neighborhoods. At the same time, as our population grows, we must keep Fayetteville affordable and mobile through things like smart infill and improved transit. Another partnership recently funded by the city and Ozark Regional Transit make free rides available throughout Fayetteville to everyone on both ORT and Razorback Transit. Routes have been coordinated to allow more frequent stops.
Water and environmental protection may be the most critical items for us manage going forward. Here in the Ozarks, we have a unique and challenging topography, hydrology and geology around our sensitive watersheds. I have dedicated a large amount of my time on City Council as Chairman of the Water, Sewer, and Solid Waste Committee to insure that our water systems are soundly managed, that we protect our environment, and that we have the capital needed to make it all happen. I spearheaded a move to save the city millions of dollars by reissuing bonds to allow better management of our enterprise funds and more long range capital for needed improvements. We have developed low impact development guidelines, streamside and hillside protections, preserved hundreds of acres of open space, and invested in restoring the streams which in turn prevent erosion and protect water quality. We are now studying a proposal to start a stormwater management utility. It is much needed and has been neglected for quite some time.
Four years ago you described Ward 2 as having a very diverse character. Has the area changed since then? Would you describe it the same way today?
Ward Two is diverse and still maintains the character much the same as four years ago. We have started to develop more respect for the Washington-Willow Historic District. City council is now moving forward with a long-needed preservation ordinance to address that. The Entertainment District is vibrant. With Theatre Squared’s new home opening soon, the recent expansion of the Walton Arts Center, and the planned Arts Corridor, our creative community will no doubt continue to grow.
I have always been a proponent of Neighborhood Preservation and there is certainly pressure on neighborhoods with the growth of the UofA. I helped establish the Town and Gown Committee to work on issues that affect both the university and the city, and we are seeing more progress in managing projects of mutual concern. This is especially true with infrastructure improvements and safety. However, there is a lot of attention that must always be in the forefront of this committee to protect neighborhood integrity.
Are there any council decisions you were especially proud of or frustrated with during your most recent term?
In 2015, I proudly co-sponsored Fayetteville’s Civil Rights Ordinance, which passed by a vote of the people. It protects everyone living, working, or visiting here from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, when it comes to housing, employment and public accommodations. It’s been under attack by the state government, but it was the right thing to do.
There are a lot of life and death issues facing Arkansans… gun violence, healthcare, living wages… but government has another essential role that is every bit as life and death.
If you don’t think Infrastructure can be a life and death issue, I’ve got a bridge in New Jersey to sell you. Getting to the hospital, having clean drinking water, and knowing you have reliable internet service can be matters of life and death.
Here in Fayetteville, where I’ve been a City Council member for the past seven years, smart management has allowed us to build new roads that get people where they need to be faster, and stimulated economic development that has allowed us to pay off our bills faster than we planned. Compare that to cities where budget deficits and crumbling bridges have put emergency services in jeopardy, and it’s easy to see the big impacts infrastructure decisions can have on everyday life. Smart infrastructure development is the key to building a well-connected future for the entire State of Arkansas.
The explosive growth of Northwest Arkansas has shown us that we must start planning for the future, today. As a Fayetteville City Council Member, I helped create a 20-year growth plan for the city, committed us to move to 100% clean energy, expanded our trails and sidewalks, and kept our regional mass transit funded. Our state government needs that same kind of planning.
At the same time, growth must not come at the cost of clean air and clean water. I’ve also worked hard to make sure we protect our sensitive watersheds and make our development low-impact.
Growing up on a rural farm near Prairie Grove and spending my adult life in more urban Fayetteville make me familiar with the importance of a good transportation network. I understand how critical it is to have good road systems that allow urban commuters to spend less time stuck in traffic and allow the flow of goods and services to and from our state’s agricultural centers.
But infrastructure is more than just roads and bridges. It’s how we make sure we avoid situations like the Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan, where cost-cutting measures led to tainted drinking water that contained lead and other toxins. It’s also how we keep the lights on. And increasingly, it’s how we communicate and do business.
Arkansas ranks 48th in the nation when it comes to broadband internet access, and 230,000 people lack wired internet. If we want to attract the jobs of the future, and modernize our healthcare and education systems, we have to fix this! Progressives in Washington, D.C. are working hard to preserve Net Neutrality right now, but it’s equally important that state and local governments are able to make sure you have access to affordable broadband in the first place.
Because of deep-pocketed telecom lobbyists, our legislature passed laws a few years ago preventing cities from providing broadband internet service to you as a public utility. We need to stop this kind of tomfoolery. For-profit companies will always be an essential part of providing internet, cable and phone services, but people in rural areas, where companies are reluctant to invest, or even cities served by only one commercial service provider, shouldn’t have to endure second-class service. I’m committed to unlocking the barriers to equitable access to communications. I’ll work with companies to create the best system we can here in Arkansas, but I’ll also stand up to them when they put profits above the public good.
Like many of you, I spent some quality time with my mom this past weekend for Mother’s Day. And just like many of you, she and I are concerned about affordable healthcare.
My mom recently moved into an apartment with skilled nursing care. But before that, she was in a local nursing and rehab facility. These are not the kinds of decisions you make lightly. When my father was on his deathbed, he told us, “don’t put your mom in a nursing home”. I still get choked up thinking about it. The number one fear of families who put a loved one into a facility is running out of money, and not knowing what to do about it.
We are so thankful that my mom is able to get the care she needs, but I know that too many people in our state aren’t getting what they need. The bottom line is affordability and ensuring that our loved ones are properly cared for. We MUST guarantee that there is funding for healthcare for our seniors and that the law does not protect profit over quality care.
Here in Arkansas, UAMS operates an Institute on Aging in Little Rock and nine regional Centers on Aging throughout the state including one here in Northwest Arkansas. But Republicans in our state government have cut millions of dollars from UAMS in recent years. This year, UAMS had to lay off hundreds of employees and leave hundreds of positions unfilled to erase a $72 million dollar deficit.
A lot of people in our state rely on regional and rural health clinics for their well being. Before I was on Fayetteville City Council, I was a senior executive for GlaxoSmithKline, and I visited all 75 counties in Arkansas as part of an initiative to get vaccines to every child in the state. My work on this program even got recognized by former Governor Mike Huckabee, proving that despite vast political differences, there will be ways to work across the aisle for the common good.
ALL Arkansans deserve quality affordable healthcare, regardless of income. But too often, it’s under attack in our state legislature. Let’s not continue to jeopardize basic healthcare for tens of thousands of vulnerable Arkansans. Right now, Arkansas ranks 46th in the nation when it comes to healthcare. Our people deserve better. Our state deserves better.
I’ve got a lot more to say about healthcare. If you’d like to read about my other positions on funding for medical research, job training for healthcare professionals, removing the Medicaid Expansion’s Work Requirement, protecting the rights of medical marijuana patients, expanding bilingual healthcare and more, check out my website at www.votemarkkinion.com
“Local control” is an issue that I’ve been very vocal about during my two terms on Fayetteville City Council and even before. What does this phrase mean? Simply put, it’s the ability of a municipal government like the City of Fayetteville to make it’s own decisions locally rather than being controlled by a distant state legislature that may not have our best interests at heart.
The issue touches on nearly everything. If you live here in District 86, which includes the University of Arkansas, you’re probably aware that last year the State Legislature passed a new gun law, sponsored by Fayetteville Republican Rep. Charlie Collins, that now allows anyone who has completed and received an enhanced training permit to bring concealed guns onto campus. This pre-emptive legislation took away local control from our universities, who had previously been allowed to decide this issue by themselves. There are also many holes and flaws in this legislation. For example, the gun doesn’t even have to be holstered. It could be in a backpack or a purse. I’m opposed to the entire concept of guns on campus. But as a city government, we looked into whether we could at least require these weapons to be in a holster – common sense gun legislation. We found out we could not. City governments have very little say over gun control in Arkansas due to the “local control” issue.
Another example I’ll give is Fayetteville’s Civil Rights Ordinance, 5781, which was passed by the voters in 2015. I was a co-sponsor of that ordinance, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. But the Ordinance is bumping up against Arkansas Act 137. This pre-emptive legislation tries to prohibit cities from passing such protections on their own. Fayetteville is challenging the Constitutionality of Act 137, and the issue is currently before the Arkansas Supreme Court. Again, this is an issue of “local control”.
There are a lot of folks in our city that are desperate for change in Little Rock when it comes to issues like gun control and civil rights. Instead of debating with each other over which issue is more pressing, we should be uniting around issues like Local Control, so we can give back Power to our People. It may not sound as sexy, but it’s one of the bedrock issues that has the ability to improve all of our lives. It’s an issue that I pledge to tackle if elected on May 22 as your State Representative for District 86.
I’m Mark Kinion, and I’d like to tell you the story of my Fayetteville Values.
I have deep roots here in Northwest Arkansas. My family has lived here for six generations, and I grew up on a small farm near Prairie Grove. I wasn’t fond of farm duties, but they taught me the value of hard work.
We didn’t have a lot of money back then. As kids, we had to wait for the school bus in a ditch that had red clay. When we got to school, the new teacher scolded us for the mess the mud had made under our desks. For the first time, I felt ashamed of being a country kid. But from that experience, I learned how to stand up for families like mine who were less fortunate. To treat everyone with dignity, no matter their background.
As a child, I practically grew up on the Buffalo River. That’s where I learned the value of protecting the environment, including our waterways so that our families’ families can enjoy them too.
Neither of my parents graduated high school, but they wanted to make sure we had a good education. Public schools allowed me to be where I am today, and I still believe in supporting public education, so that everyone can have the same opportunity I had.
My mother opened the first private kindergarten in Prairie Grove because she knew the value of early childhood education. And she passed on those values to me. That was nearly six decades ago, and the kids she taught have done well throughout their lives.
As for my dad, I really got to know him well while becoming an Eagle Scout. I also learned the importance of community service. As my Eagle Scout project, I started a food drive during the holidays in Prairie Grove through the alliance of local pastors. It continued on for many years.
When it came time to go to college, I went to the University of Arkansas on scholarships. I was too poor to live on campus, but I made sure I was involved in the community. As a student, I first learned how to be a progressive activist.
When I came out as gay to my family, it wasn’t always easy. Growing up in a rural community, I’d been bullied and harassed from a young age for being different. But I had a big brother who was always there to take up for me. In turn, I’ve spent my life taking up for other people by fighting for equality.
I had a lot of protectors growing up. And I want to be there to protect our state, regardless of where you were born, who you love, or the color of your skin. I want to be the person that helps offer opportunities to others in our state. I have a strong, hopeful vision for Arkansas, one with more opportunities and inclusion for all.
That’s why I’m running for State Representative. Arkansas needs someone who represents these Fayetteville Values.
Vote May 22. Democratic Primary.
On Monday, Arkansas’s Governor held what amounts to a dog and pony show in the State Capitol, over a work requirement plan that could jeopardize basic health care for tens of thousands of vulnerable Arkansans. Our state deserves better.
I deeply oppose unnecessary burdens and unproven barriers to health care coverage. All Arkansans deserve quality affordable health care, regardless of income. Our state legislature must act to address the root causes of poverty and unemployment, rather than punishing those who need help the most.
The head of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, flew from Washington, D.C. to Little Rock at taxpayer expense to sign off on the Republicans’ plan to add a Work Requirement for hundreds of thousands of low-income Arkansans who rely on our state’s Medicaid expansion to get the health care they need for themselves and their families. Many of these are struggling parents who currently work but do not get paid a living wage and have no other options. Arkansas is only the third state in the nation to get permission from the Trump administration for a work requirement, and would be the first to implement it.
Limited Evidence of Success
Experts say there is limited evidence that these controversial work requirements actually succeed in improving health outcomes. It is concerning when the Governor states, “We did not want to wait on a full analysis… we wanted to get this work requirement in place.” He continued, the provision “… is a work in progress.”
Oftentimes, things that sound simple, like requiring someone to work to receive Medicaid, can have major unintended consequences for people who need relief the most. For example, working people would be required to fill out time-consuming paperwork on a monthly basis. Arkansans with disabilities would be forced to prove their tax exempt status every two months. If the person fails to meet the requirements for three months, he or she will lose coverage the rest of the calendar year. This is the longest lockout period the Trump administration has approved to date.
Lowered Eligibility Still Looming
The Trump administration is still reviewing an even more controversial part of the Governor’s plan. That would lower the income eligibility from 138% of the federal poverty level to 100%. That’s just $12,140 for a single person or $25,100 for a family of four. I doubt the Governor could live on that income. But now imagine a person who is medically frail trying to live on it.
Arkansas Deserves Better
Once again, I deeply oppose this and Arkansans deserve better. District 86 deserves a state legislator who will act to address the root causes of poverty and unemployment, rather than punishing those who need help the most. These are my values and what I will work to do as your legislator.
We received a sobering, major update about guns on campus this afternoon at the Town & Gown Committee, which works on issues that affect the City of Fayetteville & the University of Arkansas:
Today we learned that the first batch of applicants has completed the Enhanced Concealed Carry training under Arkansas State Police guidelines. These individuals are now licensed to carry guns on college campuses, including the U of A. They may be packing heat right next to you, right now. The gun only has to be within arm’s length, not holstered. It could be in a purse or backpack. They don’t have to reveal they’re carrying, even if you ask.
The legislation was passed last year over the objection of the city, the university, employees, students, police, and just about everybody else involved. Today’s news also gives new urgency to a major flaw in the legislation – it allows students to carry those weapons into their dorm rooms, but doesn’t allow them to store them safely anywhere.
I oppose guns on campus, except with trained law enforcement officers. I believe this is a bad law that will cause more problems than it solves.
In the wake of this deeply flawed piece of legislation, I am calling for us to give local control back to universities and cities, to make their own decisions regarding guns on campus and other issues. We must also finally move forward with long-stalled common sense gun safety laws, such as closing background check loopholes and restrictions on military grade assault rifles. This is not an issue that only one specific law will solve. I will fight for that as your legislator.
This is a terrible idea.
For one, it places the burden of distribution on state governments, including Arkansas. The most efficient way to distribute food to people is through existing channels. Companies like Walmart and Harps spend big bucks perfecting their logistics and delivery systems, and Arkansas would have to create something like that from scratch.
How would boxes be delivered to migrant workers, transient and homeless? How would they be delivered to remote rural communities? What about people with special dietary requirements including food allergies? The boxes wouldn’t even include fresh fruits or vegetables. The program would keep SNAP dollars out of local Farmers Markets, like the one right here Fayetteville.
Food Research and Action Center, a prominent non-profit group, said the harvest box would be, “costly, inefficient, stigmatizing and prone to failure.” I agree with them.
Meanwhile, our local congressman, Steve Womack, who is now the House GOP Budget Committee chair, has maligned SNAP recipients as people who “stay on the couch, eat their potato chips”. You can see where their mindset is.
Just say no to the Trump budget, and to his GOP allies in our state government. I believe my years of experience working on local government budgets here in Fayetteville, which have used your tax money wisely, makes me the right candidate to represent you in our state legislature.
Did this headline make you uncomfortable? “Sexual assault is not a big problem around here,” you say?
A recent survey of University of Arkansas students found 31% had been sexually assaulted since arriving on campus, but almost none of these assaults were reported to campus security or city law enforcement.
Sadly, we know that sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses all around the country. This is wrong, and it must stop. Fayetteville is a city of firsts, and we have the opportunity to lead the way in ending sexual harassment and assault on college campuses and throughout our community.
When I served on the Safety Subcommittee of the Town and Gown Committee, we reviewed numbers reported to Fayetteville and University Police showing there were very few to no reported sexual assaults. I was concerned that these numbers weren’t telling the whole story. During my time as a Planned Parenthood Advisory Board member I learned that many victims are reluctant to report sexual harassment and assault for a variety of valid reasons. Now, we have the data to show that much more needs to be done to make our hometown safe.
As the #MeToo movement continues to empower assault survivors to speak out, I hope that more will be willing to seek justice with law enforcement. However, it is not just the responsibility of victims to speak out. As a community, we also have a responsibility. We must do all we can to stop assaults from happening in the first place, while making it easier for victims to report these crimes when they do happen.
I want Fayetteville to be one of the safest cities in the country. I want parents to feel confident that their children will be safe when they come here to receive an education. I want anyone who has suffered sexual assault, abuse or harassment to know that they are supported. I want predators to know that they will not be tolerated here.
That’s why I’m calling on the University, the City and community organizations to join me in building a coalition that will help prevent sex crimes and support survivors: Sexual Assault in Fayetteville Ends (SAFE).
The Arkansas legislature also has a duty to help end sexual harassment and violence. If I am elected to the House District 86 seat being vacated by Greg Leding, I will build on his efforts to address sexual assault on campus.