Tom Terminella / Courtesy
Fayetteville developer and real estate broker Tom Terminella plans to challenge Mayor Lioneld Jordan in the Nov. 8 general election this year.
Terminella, 49, said he has no political experience, but was encouraged to run for mayor by friends and associates who share his belief that Jordan’s leadership is “so out of touch” with the majority of Fayetteville citizens.
Terminella said he has heard from entrepreneurs who don’t feel welcome in Fayetteville, home builders who have given up on Fayetteville, and small business owners who need to close up shop in Fayetteville because of the city’s “smothering” regulations.
“We should be a town where everyone feels welcome, from entrepreneurs to UA graduates who want to settle down here,” he said.
Terminella didn’t cite any specific causes or trends, but said Fayetteville was “behind the curve” in Northwest Arkansas because of Jordan’s administration, which he said has not handled the city’s recent growth in positive way.
“The heart of Fayetteville is quickly turning into something unrecognizable to citizens whose roots have been planted here for decades,” Terminella said. “Instead of promoting the unique beauty of our city during our period of growth, the city has prioritized their agenda, allowing the central areas of our town (to) degrade and undermining the character and charm of our naturally beautiful city.”
He said the city needs leadership that is welcoming, honest, serving, and respectful.
“Fayetteville has a voice, but it needs a leader who will hear it,” he said.
Terminella made headlines in the early 2000s during a dispute with the now-defunct Metropolitan National Bank of Little Rock. The bank foreclosed on Terminella’s Grand Valley Ridge subdivision in Springdale in 2007, claiming Terminella and his partners had defaulted on a $9.6 million loan for the development. Denying the claim, Terminella and Grand Valley filed a counterclaim alleging the bank had breached its contract.
The countersuit was dismissed in 2009, but the decision spawned numerous appeals, complaints and additional claims. The following year, Terminella vowed to shut down the bank through litigation calling Metropolitan “a zombie bank” equated to “the walking dead.”
The saga ended in 2012, when the state Supreme Court affirmed the original dismissal of Terminella’s case. During litigation, the bank entered into an agreement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in an admission that the bank had “engaged in unsound banking practices for loaning too much money without sufficient capital reserves.”
Profile: Tom Terminella
Position sought: Mayor
Residency: Lived in Fayetteville for 46 years
Employment: Developer and real estate broker with The Terminella Company
Education: Graduate, Fayetteville High School, class of 1985
Political Experience: None
What made you decide to run for mayor? Is it something you’ve been considering for a while?
I decided to run for mayor after strong urging from friends and local business owners who asked me to join their cause of electing new leadership for our City. I’m not a politician; I’ve not been thinking about what steps to take to become one. I’m a husband and a father, and a concerned citizen who loves the City of Fayetteville and believes in serving. It’s now time to step up and serve.
The current leadership is so out of touch with the majority of our citizens, when the leadership should really be the voice of our people. I’ve been hearing the voices: entrepreneurs who don’t feel welcome in Fayetteville and choose to start their business elsewhere, home builders who have given up on building in Fayetteville due to the hostile climate in City Hall, small business owners who need to close down because smothering city regulations make it hard to thrive economically in Fayetteville. We should be a town where everyone feels welcome, from entrepreneurs to UA graduates who want to settle down here; we should be a town where everyone thrives economically and socially, and live our best lives together.
We need leadership that is welcoming, honest, serving, and respectful to our citizens. If I am elected mayor, I will listen and respond to the voices of our citizens. I will hold weekly open office hours to listen to any concern from any citizen about any policy. This is your government and your voice should always be heard. Fayetteville has a voice, but it needs a leader who will hear it. I have heard your voice and am ready to lead – this is why I am running for mayor.
With the region’s recent growth, what keeps you in Fayetteville? How would you describe the city today?
Fayetteville is my home. I was raised here and now raise my kids here. That’s what keeps me here, and is why I am running for Mayor. I love this town and am willing to work for it, so its citizens are represented and newcomers are welcome. Northwest Arkansas’ recent growth is outstanding, and we are blessed to live in a community to have the growth and amenities that we have. However, Fayetteville’s current administration has not handled the growth in what I consider a positive way, setting us behind the curve within our region. Fayetteville has always been known for its natural beauty and unique environment, and we must prioritize preserving our special city. As a city, we should never sacrifice our nature and identity for growth; rather, we should integrate growth as we continue to sustain our view shed and environment. This leads me to unfortunately describe the city today as one that has not prioritized Fayetteville’s character and unique beauty. The heart of Fayetteville is quickly turning into something unrecognizable to citizens whose roots have been planted here for decades. There was a time when you could stand on the lawn of Old Main and see the cross on Mount Sequoia[sic], and when College was a bustling thoroughfare. Instead of promoting the unique beauty of our city during our period of growth, the city has prioritized their agenda, allowing the central areas of our town (to) degrade and undermining the character and charm of our naturally beautiful city.
Are there any recent city administrative decisions you agree or disagree with? If so, which ones and why?
This week the Fayetteville City Council passed an amendment to City Ordinance 164.23, so that houses with 50 feet or less of street frontage cannot have their garage door more than five feet behind the front of their house. This was amended from lots with street frontage of 46 – 69 feet. While I agree that this amendment is a step in the right direction, I disagree with the ordinance entirely. This ordinance does nothing but create further restrictions and dramatically increase the cost of a new house in Fayetteville. Additionally, this ordinance only applies to homes being built on lots with street frontage of less than 50 feet – which is a fairly small lot, generally utilized by builders who construct affordable homes.
Traditionally, the most affordable homes are those whose design allows for the garage to sit either even with or in front of the entryway. This sort of regulatory burden not only unfairly affects those who desire affordable housing in Fayetteville, but also the thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic opportunity that home construction provides to Fayetteville annually.
(Editor’s note: The law was amended Tuesday to state that instead of requiring garages to be recessed behind the front face of the home, they now must be built either behind or flush with the front facade.)
There’s no doubt that city administrative decisions are difficult, and I understand not everyone will be happy with every decision. However, it is crucial to fully evaluate the effects decisions will have on citizens and if those decisions create new problems in the long run.
This is just one of many disagreements that I, along with many others, have with recent decisions made by city administration, and I plan to address the others during my campaign.