Tell us about you personally- Your childhood, family, etc.
My family moved to Charleston in 1988. I grew up in Charleston and graduated from Charleston High School in 1997. After attending Westark, I moved to Fayetteville to attend the University of Arkansas. I met my husband in 1998 and in 2000 we relocated to the Dallas/Fort Worth area. In 2016, my husband was offered the Dean of Admissions position at UAFS. There is no place I would rather raise my family, so we returned to Charleston. My husband and I have been married since 2002 and have two daughters, Rebel and Radley.
Tell us about your education and any experience which might help you in the mayors office.
My career spans 25 years af all faucets of real estate and asset management. In short, I have extensive experience with management, maintenance, marketing, capital improvement projects, cash management, generating revenue, controlling expenses, supervision of employees, budgeting, procurement, contract negotiations, renovations, handling natural disasters, reporting on state and federal levels, and conflict resolution. I lead by example and have the experience needed to facilitate change. The most important function of my job is ensuring the fiscal health of each asset. Performing to budgeted expectations and ensuring healthy returns to investors are essential. Through routine property inspections, capital needs and deferred maintenance items are identified, priced and then cured to protect the life expectancy of the property. A substantial amount of time is spent marketing and mitigating losses. On a regular basis I handle insurance losses, communicate with lenders, utility districts, negotiate and secure nationwide contracts. Daily I handle complex maintenance challenges from minor interior plumbing issues to disastrous loss of systems for an entire property. I have worked hand in hand with all the major municipalities in Dallas/Fort Worth as well as state and local agencies in 11 states. I have led teams of over 150 employees. I have participated in the development and construction of new properties and overseen countless multimillion dollar renovations. This year my operating budgets exceed $30,000,000 and I manage $3,000,000 in cash monthly. I announced my candidacy for Mayor because I believe my experience will serve the citizens of Charleston well. I care about Charleston and its future. I see Charleston as a thriving community that people want to call home. Like myself, a place where people want to raise their children and where the children want to return.
Tell us one or two issues you would make your top priorities as mayor.
Planning for Charleston’s future is my top priority. This plan should encompass one, five and ten year goals. Identifying the city’s needs, assessing the cost, and developing the strategy to execute will be on the forefront. Economic development, the city’s aging infrastructure, roads/sidewalks, water solutions, physical plant assessment, expanding housing options, public safety, providing additional services to our citizens and community beautification will all be included in the plan. Creating transparency within the city and working with area agencies and municipalities is my second priority. Together each achieves more and networks create opportunities for our city. Strengthening the City of Charleston’s relationship with Franklin County, the Chamber of Commerce, Charleston Public Schools and Western Arkansas Planning and Development District will lead to better services for our residents and economic development opportunities. Part of the planning for the future will include assessing the current fiscal position of the City. This assessment will identify areas of potential costs savings, lead to revenue generation and benchmark realistic financial goals for upcoming years. Finally our city government could accelerate change by creating boards to assist with community and economic development. These boards could assist focus on parks and recreation, utility services, community programs and services for all socioeconomic levels, children, and seniors, zoning ordinances, recruitment of businesses, affordable housing programs and opportunities, neighborhood associations, green initiatives, and recycling opportunities. With the right leadership, community involvement and collaboration, Charleston can thrive.
Tell us ways you would work as an “ambassador” to grow the city of Charleston.
Growth is facilitated through networking, marketing and incentivizing. Networking and marketing to surrounding communities is key to the growth of Charleston. Paris, Ozark and Booneville all have main streets are full of thriving businesses. The City of Charleston should network with these city governments and area Chambers of Commerce to identify growth opportunities. Even larger cities such as Greenwood, Fort Smith, Alma and Van Buren present the opportunity for growth marketing. All of these cities are within a footprint that small businesses are likely willing to travel to be successful. Charleston has prime real estate in the vacant storefronts on Main Street that present exposure businesses might not have in their current communities. Small businesses not only bring economic development to our city, but they also produce much needed employment opportunities. With affordable land costs, Charleston is ideal for businesses looking to relocate or expand. Charleston provides easy access to all means of business transportation; Interstate 40 (32 miles), shipping by sea (25 miles), shipping by train (25 miles) and shipping by air (21 miles). The city has to facilitate a relationship with the Charleston Chamber of Commerce. The city should be proactive in marketing our city. This includes the benefits of our great town, commercial space for lease, and land for sale. Being active in Charleston schools is critical to our long term future. As a community, we need to nurture and educate our youth. We have to give them a reason to stay in Charleston or return at some point in their adult life. This involvement could be the difference between starting a business locally or in Northwest Arkansas when the opportunity presents itself. Being present and involved in our community is vital. Tap our inner talent. There are multiple successful business people in our community. These individuals are successful, know our community, and the challenges our city faces. Engaging them and their knowledge will only benefit the future of our city. Working hand in hand with Western Arkansas Planning and Development District to plan for economic growth. WAPDD can identify grant and loan sources and assist with securing the collateral needed to facilitate improvements in our community. Advocacy Marketing through the citizens that LOVE Charleston is also a great way to reach the masses. By partnering with our citizens, Charleston could be marketed across the country. Lastly, developing incentives that would attract businesses to our city is essential. Start up is the most costly and critical time in a new business. Offering tax or utility incentives during this time could literally ensure the vitality of a business. The only way forward is change. The current empty store fronts and vacant land signal opportunity for our great city! The city has to have an active role in marketing and networking on a global level to propel Charleston into the future.