Two candidates will contend for the Ward Two, Position One seat on the Eureka Springs City Council this year. Incumbent James DeVito is seeking a fourth term as alderman. Challenging DeVito is local historic preservationist Gregory Moon. Following is the text of a question-and-answer exchange meant to introduce readers with each candidate. Both DeVito and Moon were given the same set of questions, with instructions to limit each response to 100 words. (Note: Question 5 is a two-part question, so candidates' full answers were allowed.) Responses were received by email and have received only minor editing. The contenders are presented alphabetically. A brief biography is followed by the questions and answers.
James DeVito, 62, has lived in Carroll County for 32 years and in Eureka Springs for 25. However, he said his Ozark roots run even deeper. Three generations of DeVito's family have called the region home. "My grandfather started the family business consisting of Mystic Caverns, a gift shop, a rock shop, a trout farm, a stocked lake, and Marble Falls," he said. "My father retired from the military and started a trout farm at Bear Creek Springs."
DeVito attended college for four years, but did not earn a degree. He also worked as a carpenter for 15 years before following in the entrepreneurial footsteps of his forebears. In 1986, he and his brothers founded DeVito's restaurant at Bear Creek Springs. DeVito moved to Eureka Springs the next year to open a sister restaurant.
Since then, DeVito has served three terms as an alderman and a member of the City Advertising and Promotion Commission. He has also run for mayor.
DeVito said his community involvement has extended beyond political office, as well. "I have been a founding member of the Commercial Club," he said, "helped found the Community Development Partnership, organized and ran the Taste of Eureka for nine years, and started the Eureka Springs Film Festival."
I'm running for council because it's what a person should do as a way of repaying the community. My business has been able to continue in Eureka Springs for over 25 years. Because of that, I feel I am responsible to try and make things better than when I arrived.
What would be your priorities and goals if re-elected?
Right now, it's trying to improve the economy. If you can do that you can create more jobs. More jobs mean better opportunities for the people who call Eureka Springs home. I presently sit as council's representative to the City Advertising and Promotion Committee. I'm pleased to say the city is ahead of last year's budget goals by 16 percent.
I have no close ties or relatives who work for the city in any capacity.
I have to remind people that some meetings run over four hours as it is. If everyone could speak when they wanted, I'm worried the effect could be counterproductive. I was the councilman at the first of the year who recommended moving the public comment section to the beginning of the meeting so citizens who wanted to address council didn't have to wait four hours.
The most admirable thing about City Council is the people willing to serve their community. The least can be those same people.
I don't care for the taste fluoride adds to the water. Enough people are against it in Eureka Springs, so I feel it is something we can do on a personal basis and not system-wide.
I was against the deer hunt from the first. I felt and still do feel the feeding ban should have been allowed time to take effect. Since then, the citizens have voted to conduct a deer hunt. My personal feeling are secondary to a vote of the people. The carefully controlled hunt overseen by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission should be allowed to proceed.
Limousines should be operated on a reservation basis. I do not agree with the majority vote of council to require a minimum two-hour rental of a limo. I feel this strict standard inhibits a limo owner from making money on one-hour rides. I think, instead, a two-hour wait between the reservation and the pickup would insure that limousines wouldn't compete with taxis.
I feel taxis should have more regulations than they presently have. A minimum of a once-a-year inspection should be essential. Taxis should also be plainly marked and a rate schedule should be visible. Just like over-the-road truckers, there should be a number visible to call to complain.
The city has a few large infrastructure demands that will require attention. We should be on the constant lookout for federal and state grants. We should develop a master plan and prioritize which ones we want to tackle first.
How should the city pay for the above?
As a city, we should be furthering ties to the other cities nearby. Strengthening economic interests with our neighbors will only help everyone involved. Tourism is the base of our economy and the CAPC is the arm of city government that deals with improving the economy. We hired a new director of the CAPC last year, and he seems to have hit the ground running. Presently the city is up 16 percent over last year.
Gregory Moon, 48, is taking another swing at political office after an unsuccessful run for City Council two years ago. Though originally from Trumann, Ark., Moon has lived in Eureka Springs for the past 10 years. Before coming to Eureka, he attended Rochester College in Rochester Hills, Mich., and graduated from the Echols School of Hotel and Restaurant Management in Chicago.
Moon has worked for Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Sanctuary Restaurant in Bentonville. Locally, he has been employed by the Grand Central Hotel and Rowdy Beaver restaurant. He currently works at New Dehli Cafe and Eureka Live nightclub.
When not working, Moon serves on the Eureka Springs Preservation Society and as the vice-chair of the Eureka Springs Historic District Commission.
I want to contribute to the preservation and future of this historic city -- especially to the infrastructure, which has been neglected for decades, and neglected cemetery and parks requests.
I have no set agenda.
Public comment should be confined to the beginning and end of each meeting.
I am against fluoridation. I oppose the hunt as it is currently detailed by council. As for the taxi vs. limo debate, we need all transportation available, especially on evenings and early mornings.
Our infrastructure should be given the highest priority. This is the main reason I am running. Without a good infrastructure, some people will just not return -- no matter how much we advertise.
The city should seek federal and state grants for areas along Highways 62 and 23. Bonds and/or sales tax increases should be used to fund sewer, water, and street improvements, and special assessments should be used for sidewalks. All major street improvements should be put out for bid to outside contractors.