Professor seeks spot on city board

Scott Jones, adjunct professor at John Brown University, is running for position five on the Siloam Springs City Board of Directors.

The seat Jones is aiming for is one of the three at-large positions on the board, which means that it is not tied to any geographical area.

Owning a downtown business, Fratelli’s Wood-Fired Pizzeria, for the past three years opened his eyes to how the city government does and does not work, Jones said.

“Siloam gets a lot of things right, but we need to rethink other things,” he said, explaining his reason for running.

The city should make better use of the University, he added. The students present a unique opportunity, both during their college years and when they are looking for a place to settle down.

“Businesses do not try to capture you students,” he said. “You drive over to Fayetteville instead and take your dollars with you.”

Siloam Springs’ board is similar to a city council, Jones said. But the directors also hire or fire the city administrator, who holds the enforcement power in the town. The mayor elected by the citizens can veto measures passed by the board, but apart from that his role is more ceremonial.

Jones’ opponent is the current holder of the position, Ken Wiles. He has served on the board for eight years. In his first election, he ran against two opponents. Four years ago, he ran unopposed.

Wiles pointed to board successes such as selling the hospital, building the new high school. The city has also invested $9 million in infrastructure, he said.

Wiles said he is seeking reelection because he feels that there is still much to do.

“We are just getting started, just getting our momentum going,” he said. “I still enjoy [serving on the board], I’m still passionate about it, and it’s still fun for me.”

Wiles declined to comment on specific plans he has for the city if he were to be reelected, since some of those ideas are currently in the talking stages with the board. He said that his experience and knowing how things work to run the board is his main selling point.

“I have a genuine passion for making and keeping Siloam Springs the great place it is,” Wiles said. “That is what compels me to run again.”

Jones said his family is “in general ok with it.” His wife, Tasha, grew up with her dad serving on the city council. His business partner in the restaurant is also supportive.

During his campaigning, Jones said he had visited about 60 streets. He guessed he had talked to or left fliers for 1,600 of the 4,000 active voters in the city. Overall, he received a positive response.

“Personal contact is very important,” Jones said. “It does not guarantee anything, but I would like to think it will pay off.”

When he knocked on a door last week, the lady who opened it told him she had already voted for him in early voting, Jones said.

“I had never met her before,” he added. “But she had evidently seen something or talked to someone that encouraged her to vote for me.”

Junior Elizabeth Mathers has taken classes from Jones as a political science major. She said she joined him for an afternoon of door-to-door campaigning.

“It is good for him to use his voice and run for what he believes,” Mathers said. “Lots of people know him from Fratelli’s, so I think he has a good chance of winning.”

“Political philosophers for centuries have compared the value of the contemplative versus the active life,” Jones said. “For the past 12 years I practiced the contemplative life here at JBU. Now I would like to experience the active life.”