Becoming: Fayetteville’s First Latina City Councilwoman by Sonia Gutierrez.
It’s awesome. I absolutely love my job. I am so humbled to have been elected and so thrilled to serve, listen to, and represent the people of Fayetteville.
I’ve described it two ways so far when others ask me the same question:
1. I get on my “City Council” bike each day and ride. So far I haven’t crashed. Irvin, thanks for the advice to get a helmet. LOL.
2. I’m in the middle of the ocean and dog paddling. Not sure which direction to start going, I just know that I should not stop swimming.
Everyone is so nice: The City of Fayetteville staff, the other council members, and of course our amazing Mayor Lioneld Jordan. I have a standing meeting with various staff members to better understand our communication strategy and our planning codes. With time I’ll add standing meetings with other departments.
These have been the first out of necessity to be sure I am on the same page with the City’s policy for officials and to wrap my head around zoning.
The mayor has assigned me to 4 committees:
Water & Sewer - making sure our facilities stay in good condition to ensure residents and businesses get clean water and can flush their toilets.
Active Transportation - to discuss, vote and recommend sidewalks and trails
Nominating - to determine who will serve on boards and committees.
Equipment - to review and recommend to the Council for example, the vehicles such as fire trucks, police cars, and recycling trucks that we should invest.
All outcomes from these committees then go before the entire Council for final approval.
When I attended the Arkansas Municipal league conference this past January I felt I found my tribe. I realized that I was in the company of people who love their communities, aim to improve their towns and that Fayetteville is a leader among them. Again, I am so humbled because so many people congratulated me and asked about our Mayor. (It did help that my name tag had a giant ribbon it that read “New Official” 😀.)
Again, everyone is so nice. I met City Council members, City Staff and Mayors from all over Arkansas, including my hometown of Jacksonville.
Right now I am trying to figure out the balance of doing my City work with my consulting work because financially, I can’t afford to live off of the 15k that I get paid to be a Council Member in Fayetteville. I could absolutely do this job 24/7 and still not ever be “done.”
Sometimes when I am referring people to the website I scroll past my photo and I still get surprised and happy all over again that I serve and represent Fayetteville, Arkansas—a city of people that I love with all my heart.