Ask Lioneld Jordan why he wants to continue serving as mayor of Fayetteville and you’ll likely receive a familiar quote.
“I love this city!” said Jordan one recent evening while preparing for the final weeks leading up to the November general election.
Jordan, 62, who defeated then-Mayor Dan Coody in 2008 (and Coody again in 2012), is seeking his third four-year term. This time he’ll face local developer Tom Terminella and Ron Baucom in the Nov. 8 vote.
As in previous years, Jordan said he’s proud of his time in office and has no problem letting his record speak for his campaign.
Jordan was a strong supporter of the voter-approved Uniform Civil Rights Protection ordinance, which prohibits business owners and landlords from firing or evicting someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“I believe in doing what’s right,” said Jordan. “I could never have any regrets about working for equality, diversity and inclusion.”
Jordan has been at the helm during completion of several major infrastructure projects in the past few years, including the recent opening of Kessler Mountain Regional Park, the Van Asche Drive extension, the flyover bridge in north Fayetteville, and the nearly completed extension of Rupple Road.
Continued improvements to physical and digital infrastructure, he said, will be key in managing the growth the city has seen in recent years.
Jordan also pointed to other projects he’s proud of, including a newly adopted economic development plan and an in-progress update to the city’s transportation master plan.
“These investments have driven our economy, and they have paid off for our community with new jobs and a thriving economic environment,” said Jordan. “More people are moving here than anywhere else in the state, and that is because we are such a great place to live.”
Jordan said if re-elected, he’ll continue to make open government a keystone of his administration.
“Nothing makes me more proud than the informed engagement and active participation of Fayetteville residents who care about our community and demand a voice in how it is governed,” he said. “That is our strength. I have a deep faith in the collective wisdom of our diverse community, and I trust the people to get it right and make the right decisions when they have all the information.”
Jordan said his 16 years of experience as mayor and former Ward 4 alderman are part of what qualifies him for another term, but it’s his pledge to the people that he hopes makes the biggest impression.
“No one will love this city more or work harder to keep it sound,” he said. “I get up every morning and come to work with one thing on my mind: How can I make our community even better and help everyone have a brighter tomorrow. I will listen to you and give serious consideration to your views and opinions. We may not always agree on everything, but your voice will always be heard.”
Profile: Lioneld Jordan
Position sought: Mayor
Residency: Lifelong resident of Northwest Arkansas, 44-year resident of Fayetteville
Employment: Mayor of Fayetteville
Education: Huntsville High School, University of Arkansas
Political Experience: Fayetteville mayor (2009-present), Ward 4 alderman (2000-2008)
You spent eight years as an alderman and eight more as mayor. What keeps you coming back for more?
This is a question I often get and my first thought on all of this is – I truly love this city.
What keeps me coming back year after year, and day after day is that we have been a successful, accountable and accomplished administration and there is still much to do. I believe as long as you have the passion for what you do, you can still be an effective public servant, you have a duty to keep fighting for the best interest of the entire city. As city leaders we don’t own the city we just want to leave the city in a better place than when we began.
I want to continue to make Fayetteville a city we’re proud to call home.
Considering the changes to the region since you first took office, how would you describe Fayetteville today?
We are an awesome city. We have been through a lot the past eight years, and still remain a leader in our state and in the nation. This has long been woven into the fabric of who we are – to continuously improve and work towards making our unique city better for our families today and our generations to come.
We are the fastest growing city in the state of Arkansas by population. More people are moving here than anywhere else in the state, and that is because we are such a great place to live. This year the city of Fayetteville and our region were named by U.S. News & World Report as the #1 Best Affordable places to Live and the 3rd best place to live in the United States. We were recently named by Southern Living as one of the Best Places to Retire, by Livability.com as the Best College Town, and received other honors such as Best Place to Start a Business, Best Place to Recover From A Recession, and the list goes on and on. This has helped us paint a canvas for smart growth and a sustainable city.
These awards are the recognition of a lot of hard work and leadership by a lot of people who are committed to our city. Partners like the University of Arkansas and our Fayetteville School District, our business community, church leaders, our arts & creative economy professionals, our environmentalists, and all of our diverse citizens are the reasons we are being recognized as leaders.
That is our Fayetteville today – an awesome Fayetteville, a thriving Fayetteville, a city others emulate, and a city others respect.
During your time in office, what city government decisions are you especially proud of or frustrated with?
Well, there is a lot that I’m proud of. I am proud that we have an appreciation for our history as a unique, open, accepting, responsible community of closely knit people.
Whether it’s something recent like the preservation of Kessler Mountain, or leading the region to develop a world class system of bike trails – or things further back in our history, like being the first to integrate in the state of Arkansas way back at a time in history, when civil rights for our black community were at the forefront. Both then and now, being an open, responsible and accepting community is something I am proud to be associated with.
Honestly, I don’t get frustrated a lot. I knew when I took this job there was a lot that needed to be done – and a “once in a century” ice storm the first month in office didn’t help. We had significant infrastructure needs. To keep pace with the region, we needed to build new roads like Rupple Road, or Van Asche Drive, and expanded roads like Highway 265, and Old Wire Road. We saw the need for a regional trail system and knew we needed to get the ball rolling, so Fayetteville needed to act first.
There are going to be more challenges and opportunities along the way. We need to continue our investments in physical infrastructure, but also create a new digital infrastructure so the jobs we create will be the kind of jobs that pay well and will be around for a long time. We absolutely must maintain our strong social environment and continue to hold dear what makes Fayetteville unique.
And we are going to have to do all this while continuing our string of seven balanced budgets in a row.
But my friends, at the end of the day, challenges are not frustrating once you understand that together, using the principles we all believe, we can find solutions to our challenges. And here is what we believe – we believe in one another, taking care of one another, it’s all about community building community, and that is what makes this city such a great place.