VOTE 2018: Sonia Gutierrez to run for Fayetteville City Council in Ward 1

Sonia Gutierrez / Photo by Kat Wilson

Sonia Gutierrez will take another shot at a seat on the Fayetteville City Council.

The longtime resident, educator and civil rights advocate will challenge Kris Paxton for the Ward 1, Position 1 seat currently held by Adella Gray.

Councilwoman Gray, who was first elected in 2006 and is the council’s longest active member, will not seek a fourth term in November.

Gutierrez, 43, ran for the same seat in 2014 alongside Gray and Paul Phaneuf, but did not receive enough votes to advance to the runoff election.

She announced her campaign at the recent Women’s March on the steps of the Town Center building in downtown Fayetteville.

She said the recent national political climate led her to run again, and cited a need for more women in roles of leadership.

Gutierrez’ campaign website divides her platform into three categories to keep Fayetteville: financially fit, friendly and funky.

If elected, she said on her website she’ll push issues that attract businesses of all sizes, while also balancing support for local entrepreneurs. She said she’ll work from the top down to increase inclusivity for people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, and income levels. She said while the city should encourage new development, it’s important to ensure anything new complements the surrounding character and maintains “the existing vibe.”

Meet the Candidates

The following candidates have responded to a request from the Fayetteville Flyer for more information about their candidacy in the Nov. 6 election.

Ward 1
Sonia Gutierrez
Kris Paxton
Olivia Trimble

Ward 2
Martin Bemberg
Raymond Burks
Mark Kinion

Ward 3
Lucas Regnier
Sloan Scroggin

Ward 4
Adam Fire Cat
John La Tour
Teresa Turk

Ward 1 encompasses south and southeast Fayetteville, including the areas south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Huntsville Road. Mount Sequoyah, Happy Hollow Elementary, and Ramay Junior High School are also included in Ward 1.

Gutierrez said she’s excited about the recent push for an arts and culture district in south Fayetteville.

“We know that a thriving arts district in turn will attract all business to the area to feed, house, and entertain all who work, visit, and live in the area,” she said.

Gutierrez spoke at a recent City Council meeting in support for an amendment to expand the upcoming College Avenue corridor study to include Archibald Yell Boulevard and South School Avenue to Cato Springs Road. Gutierrez said the plan could help address ways for residents to safely cross Archibald Yell, and could highlight the needs of the homeless and disabled individuals in the area. The amendment was unanimously approved earlier this month.

The filing period for City Council candidates begins Friday, July 27 and runs through noon Friday, Aug. 17.

Profile: Sonia Gutierrez

Position sought: Ward 1, Position 1
Age: 43
Residency: Fayetteville resident for 26 years
Employment: Founder, COO of New Design School; CEO of Atelier NDS
Education: Master of fine arts, Parsons School of Design; Bachelor of Arts in Art and Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, University of Arkansas


You said the Fayetteville Forward event was your biggest motivator in deciding to run in 2014. Is there anything in particular that made you want to run in 2018?

Honesty, the 2017 national political climate has been a major motivator. It is more important than ever for women to get involved and lead change. Also, I don’t give up easily.

How would you describe Ward 1 in 2018? Has it changed in the last four years? If so, how?

Ward 1 is a place of opportunity. One major change since 2104 is that it has been identified as an ideal location to develop an arts and culture district. This is incredibly exciting for new and existing businesses, artists and residents. All will be able to benefit from offering, accessing and participating in art events in their own neighborhood.

Are there any recent citywide or Ward 1 council decisions you agree or disagree with?

I am thrilled about Kessler Mountain Park. I agree with the council in that providing people with easy access to nature is a great way to preserve green space while inviting people to enjoy our natural environment.

More recently I agree with the update proposed by council member Sarah Marsh to the City Plan 2030 to include Archibald Yell, South School to Cato Springs. This unanimous decision by the council can help us address safe ways to cross Archibald Yell. The results could also highlight the needs of the homeless and disabled individuals who are on foot utilizing the services in the area. The updated plan is also laying the groundwork for a “Creative Corridor.” The idea would be to push innovative solutions for affordable housing, artist studio space, and services to help individuals transition from the street toward careers. In addition, the amendment can also work toward preserving our unique curb appeal through the repurposing of our existing buildings.