VOTE 2018: John La Tour and Teresa Turk to face off in Ward 4 runoff election on Dec. 4

John La Tour (left) and Teresa Turk (right)

Environmental consultant Teresa Turk will face incumbent John La Tour in a runoff election on Dec. 4 to determine the winner of the Ward 4, Position 1 seat on the Fayetteville City Council.

Turk received 2,909 votes (45%), while La Tour took 2,811 votes (44%). A third candidate, Adam Fire Cat, received 677 votes (11%).

In Arkansas, when there are more than two candidates, if a single candidate doesn’t secure over 50 percent of the votes, the two people with the most votes go to a runoff election four weeks later unless the leading candidate receives more than 40 percent of the votes and is ahead of the runner-up by 20 percent.

La Tour, 62, was first elected to the City Council in 2014 when he took 43 percent of the votes to replace outgoing council member Rhonda Adams. La Tour defeated Ray Boudreaux (20%), D’Andre Jones (14%), Phillip McKnight (10%), Craig Honchell (8%) and Robert Williams (5%).

Ward 4 candidate forum

Each Ward 4 candidate participated in an hour-long forum held Sept. 14 at the Fayetteville Public Library.

» Read our recap of the event

During his campaign, La Tour was an outspoken opponent of the city’s civil rights ordinance that was passed by the City Council in August 2014. He was part of Repeal 119, a group that gathered enough signatures to force a special election which ended with the repeal of the ordinance. A new civil rights ordinance was passed by voters the following year.

If re-elected, La Tour said he’d push for completion of “The Mayor’s Box,” a series of projects that make up Mayor Lioneld Jordan’s plan to build a “box” of four-lane boulevards around the edges of the city. The goal is to not only to help motorists more easily travel through town, but also to drive economic development.

La Tour said extending Rupple Road to Howard Nickel Road could drive development and increase sales tax revenue needed to further support the police and fire departments.

He also spoke out against a decision last year to appoint Kyle Smith to fill a council vacancy left when Long resigned. State law allows municipalities to either appoint a new member to serve the remaining unexpired term or call for a special public election. At the time, La Tour said despite the added cost, a special election should determine the new member. He said anything less would be “immoral.”

“It’s common sense that the people of Ward 4 should be able to vote for their representative, not have one assigned to them without their involvement in the decision,” said La Tour.

Turk, 57, developed a love of nature while in college at the University of Arkansas after discovering the Buffalo National River. She moved to Alaska in 1988 to work as a biologist aboard Russian ships in the Bering Sea, and returned to school to earn a master of science degree in fisheries science from the University of Washington.

For the next 25 years she worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle and Washington, D.C. She returned to Fayetteville in 2012, and owns a consulting company that works primarily for the NOAA.

Turk said the city needs to slow down a bit when it comes to development and consideration for existing neighborhoods.

“We need to grow more slowly and with more discussion on the kind of city we want in the future,” Turk said earlier this year.

She said Fayetteville has an opportunity to expand upon its environmentally-friendly image by borrowing ideas from other cities, such as incentivizing citizens and businesses to use renewable resources and changing residents’ habits to reduce waste.

Turk serves on the city’s Historic District Commission and the Civil Rights Commission. She is also treasurer of the neighborhood association at University Heights, located just west of the University of Arkansas campus.

Ward 4 contains a large portion of west Fayetteville, including Razorback Stadium, Holt Middle School, Holcomb Elementary School, and the Boys & Girls Club of Fayetteville.

City Council members are paid $12,504 per year.