Oct 7, 2022 - Politics

Five candidates vie to become Centerton mayor

Top from left to right: Wendy Henson, Mike Blakeman, Mayor Bill Edwards. Bottom from left to right: Michael Commet, Lance Johnson. Photos courtesy of the candidates

Centerton residents have their pick of five mayoral candidates this November.

What's happening: Mayor Bill Edwards is running for re-election, while Mike Blakeman, Michael Commet, Wendy Henson and Lance Johnson will also be on the ballot.

Details:

  • Blakeman is a national account manager with International Industrial Development Associates. He's a sponsor at Benton County Quail, a nonprofit that supports conservation efforts and shooting sports, and former vice president of Aspire Booster Club.
  • Commet is co-founder and board member of Engaged Ministries Church and serves on the State Board of Barbers Examiners. Commet, a disabled Army veteran, volunteers with the American Legion and veterans suicide prevention organization, We Are the 22.
  • Edwards is running for re-election after 12 years serving in the role. He's a member of the Benton County Solid Waste Board and previously sat on the Centerton City Council and Parks and Recreation Board.
  • Henson is the founder and executive director of Centerton Cares, a nonprofit community outreach program that collects donations for residents in need.
  • Johnson is a laborer at Centerton Utilities and a board member at the Children of Centerton nonprofit that helps provide food to children. He previously served on the Benton County 911 Board.

Be smart: A candidate must win at least 50% of the vote plus one to win. If no one gets the majority, the two candidates with the most votes head to a runoff election.

Q&A: Meet the candidates

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

Blakeman: I'm running for mayor of Centerton because my wife (Stacie) and I have family ties dating back to 1911, and I have lived in this community for 40-plus years.

  • We want to bring a positive change and continue growing an already fast-growing community. I feel like my business background and local connections will help continue to grow this community in a positive way.

Commet: With an incumbent of 12 years and stagnant growth, I decided to step up with solid solutions. I want to lead Centerton forward with balanced growth, transparency and accountability. Centerton and its citizens deserve better.

Edwards: We are the fastest-growing community and have many projects still left to complete such as trails, additional parks, a community center and a library.

Henson: My direct involvement with the residents of this community through Centerton Cares has allowed me to hear issues in the city from the voices of the concerned, and considering that, I decided to step up because I know that I can make a positive change for the community of Centerton.

Johnson: During my career in law enforcement and the fire service, I knew I would continue my public service by running for mayor of Centerton one day. I want to make a positive change for citizens, our community and our children. Centerton has been my home for 20 years. I have worked for Centerton for 22 years.

  • Our infrastructure from roadways and drainage throughout the city needs [to be] maintained, repaired or expanded. I wish to expand and build more ballfields, parks, a community center and a community pool for all ages of citizens to enjoy and feel safe.
  • Establish community policing in our neighborhoods, businesses and parks. Increase transparency and accountability over finances and all city personnel.

Axios: How can the city best accommodate growth?

Blakeman: By creating tourist attractions that bring investments into the local economy, like a small movie theater, hotel and shopping centers for local businesses and public transit to help with traffic issues we face now. I will work with local mayors in our NWA community to help build a better relationship that will help with the growth as well.

Commet: We have to accommodate growth through thoughtful planning. We have to seek businesses that compliment our community while balancing the growth to support the demand. Infrastructure upgrades are essential to our success.

Edwards: Continue to keep up with infrastructure, adding water and sewer to keep up with the growth. Continue to build new roads and work with the Arkansas Department of Transportation to widen state highways.

Henson: Growth is inevitable. Our focus should be on expanding and improving our roads and putting more effort into becoming an integral link to the NWA hub while supporting our own identity.

  • Our families deserve to have activities where they live, and I want to bring unique opportunities for them, which also has the potential to attract others as well. We need better support for our existing businesses and to spend more effort in attracting a more diverse business offering for residents to keep their dollars spent in our community.

Johnson: The city can best accommodate growth by upgrading roadways and drainage. ... Work with staff and developers for safe intersections for vehicle traffic to merge with major roadways in and out of Centerton.

  • Install, repair and maintain safe routes to schools and connectivity throughout Centerton via sidewalks and trails. Create more parks, playgrounds and dog parks for all to enjoy around the city.
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