Sep 20, 2022 - News

Who's running for Bentonville City Council

From left to right: Tyler Masters, Aubrey Patterson, Tom Hoehn, Octavio Sanchez. Photos courtesy of the candidates

With less than five weeks until early voting starts Oct. 24, Bentonville City Council has four contested races.

Be smart: Each of the council contests is citywide, meaning residents can vote in all the races, regardless of the ward in which they reside. Election Day is Nov. 8. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 11.

  • Council members serve four-year terms.

Ward 3, Position 1 — incumbent Aubrey Patterson ​​v. Tyler Masters

  • Patterson has served on the Bentonville City Council since 2018. She is a teacher at Bentonville High School, where she is the faculty adviser to the community service-focused JustServe Club, and was previously appointed to the Airport Advisory Board and the Bentonville Traffic Safety and Signage Committee. She ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary for District 13 state representative in May 2022.
  • Masters is the manager of people operations at Stratice, LLC and serves as president of the board of directors for The Equality Crew and as a member of Bentonville's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce.
  • He previously had senior leadership roles at HOBY Arkansas, a youth mentorship program.

Axios: Why are you running for Bentonville City Council and what is your main goal or priority?

Patterson: I'm running for re-election because I want to make sure Bentonville continues to be an amazing place to live and raise a family.

  • I have worked hard to manage taxpayer dollars, to be a voice for residents, to make sure emergency workers have the resources they need to keep our city safe and to encourage smart investments in infrastructure. Bentonville is currently working on dozens of street, intersection, drainage and parks projects that will immensely benefit the city. I have the experience needed to help see these projects through to completion.

Masters: I am running because Bentonville residents deserve a progressive voice on the council that is completely focused on planning for the future of our city, today. My main priority as a city council member will be the planning and management of the expected growth of the next decade in Bentonville.

  • We have so much to offer as a city, but to ensure that is still the case in the near- and long-term, we need to have a thoughtful, well-researched, well-funded plan that takes into consideration the feedback and concerns of Bentonville residents.

Axios: What can the city government do to alleviate rising housing costs?

Patterson: Bentonville's rapid growth isn't surprising. We live in a wonderful, welcoming and safe place with abundant job and recreation opportunities. But our housing supply can’t keep up with the increase in demand, and prices have increased at an unprecedented rate. This has left many residents unable to find affordable housing.

  • The Bentonville City Council established the Housing Affordability Workgroup to conduct a review of housing needs, availability and affordability in Bentonville. The workgroup has come up with several proposals, and the Bentonville City Council will evaluate the potential solutions. Some of the options include waived impact fees, cottage zoning, modified parking requirements, utility easement relief, density bonuses and participation in the CDBG program.

Masters: The Bentonville City Council has a major role to play in the affordable housing situation in the city, because the council is responsible for approving the members of the Planning Commission appointed by the mayor. Planning Commission members should have expertise in these areas, a passion for public service and a relevant background for those positions.

  • The council also has the right to accept, amend or reject zoning plans put forward by the Planning Commission. Simply put, we are the final stop before the plan for the city becomes law, and the Bentonville City Council’s priorities for housing set the tone for the developments within the city limits.

Ward 4, Position 1 – incumbent Octavio Sanchez v. Tom Hoehn

  • Sanchez has served on the Bentonville City Council since 2015 after running unsuccessfully for the position in 2012. He recently retired as a database administrator for Walmart and has served on the Bentonville Public Library Advisory Board, the Utility Board and Airport Advisory Board. He ran unsuccessfully for Benton County justice of the peace in 2012.
  • Hoehn is the executive vice president of digital and social at 4Media Group. He served on the council in 2017 after being appointed to finish a term left vacant by James Smith. He’s the chair of the Bentonville Public Arts Advisory Committee and a juror at the Bentonville Film Festival. He previously served as a board member at the Peel Compton Foundation and George Eastman International Museum of Photography and Film.

Axios: Why are you running for Bentonville City Council and what is your main goal or priority?

Sanchez: I want to continue helping the city in making the best decisions for all by incorporating the opinions of its citizens and being a voice for them. I have eight years of experience doing that.

Hoehn: We call Bentonville home. Taking care of that home is a duty for us all. I am proud of the progress we have made, managing to both rapidly grow and maintain our welcoming attitude for new residents. …. The Community Plan surfaced that people want the benefits growth brings, such as Crystal Bridges, trails, restaurants, etc., but also that we need to keep the core of what makes our community special and being supportive of quality-of-life initiatives.

  • I have five priorities: responsible growth, infrastructure, public safety, servant leadership and "y'all means all."

Axios: What can the city government do to alleviate rising housing costs?

Sanchez: The city could simplify the process that regulates construction to increase the speed in which the developments become available for use. The city's Housing Affordability Workgroup is studying options, one of which seems to be a higher usage of accessory dwelling units.

Hoehn: Axios NWA reported that Northwest Arkansas home price gains outpace [the] nation. People who own homes love seeing their equity rise, while those entering the market as their part of the American Dream can be excluded.

  • City government can help by supporting affordable housing options. Recent developments have included "workforce housing" options for qualified renters — a positive step. Supporting organizations such as the Community Development Corporation of Bentonville — who creates and maintains affordable housing using funding tools like Section 42 Tax Credit, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, HUD Section 202 and USDA Rural Development — and private programs — can help.
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