Oct 17, 2022 - Politics

Contenders go toe-to-toe for Rogers City Council seat

Photo illustration of Richard Labit and Barney Hayes with a halftone dividing line.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Courtesy of the campaigns of Richard Labit and Barney Hayes.

Two candidates are running to represent Rogers' Ward 4, the southeast part of the city, on City Council.

Details: Incumbent Barney Hayes is challenged by newcomer Richard Labit.

  • Hayes retired from Rogers Public Schools as a coach and teacher, and from the city as the parks director. He's served on Council since 2017 and previously between 1998 and 2010. He formerly sat on the Benton County Quorum Court and is the ex-president of the Rogers Youth Center Board of Directors.
  • Labit is a pre-law student studying political science at the University of Arkansas. He volunteers with the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry and the Society of St. Vincent.

Be smart: Early voting starts Oct. 24. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Q&A: Meet the candidates

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

Hayes: I am running for the City Council because I have a vested interest in Rogers. I feel growth is our most significant issue that lies ahead. In order to keep Rogers as one of the top cities to live, work and enjoy, we will need to plan and budget wisely for public safety, transportation/infrastructure, and quality-of-life issues.

  • My goal is to make sure we plan judiciously and budget wisely to accomplish our expectations and make our community an even better place to live for all of our Rogers citizens.

Labit: I am running for City Council to help more people than what I currently can do at SVDP. It breaks my heart how many homeless, food insecure, addicts and [people who can't read] there are, and this city has nothing to improve their conditions. In any other country, this would be addressed. Yet here, they have no interest in doing so. I've spoken with the few nonprofits that we do have, and they agree with what I stand for 100%.

  • Speaking with other residents of the city, they also agree that this current City Council is not doing anything to address these issues. And I may add, whilst I may be young, I am the future. My age does not mean anything, and I'm not running for the paycheck. That is why I have refused any endorsement that I was offered, because my interest lies solely in the people. Not to be bought off and serve other people's interests other than that of the people.

Axios: What should the city government do to best foster the growth in Rogers?

Hayes: The city should have an open dialogue with its citizens. This means regular public meetings and communications with our constituents on public decisions that will affect the population. Concerns like zoning issues, affordable housing, public safety, transportation and quality-of-life issues need to be properly vetted.

  • These types of decisions will bring in higher paying jobs and make Rogers a more desirable place to live.

Labit: The city government should make the city more walkable. We need more rehab centers; we need night literacy programs; we need affordable housing; we need public transportation, improved infrastructure, [etc.].

  • My opponent has offered no solutions to these issues, and I doubt he will. He's been in office for the majority of my time living here, and none of the things that I wish to propose and get done have been done.

What's next: Another Rogers City Council seat will also be decided.

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