Neal Adams and John Williams are both running for the Paragould City Council Ward 4 Position 1 seat. The election is Tuesday, November 3. Early voting begins on Monday, October 19.
The Daily Press asked candidates to respond to the following questions by email along with this statement: “We are asking that candidates try to limit their answers for each question to about 250 words at the most:”
PDP: Why do you want to serve on the Paragould City Council?
Neal Adams: I live here, I work here, and I believe Paragould should expand opportunities for current and future generations.
Over the past decades, our leadership has worked diligently to build a strong financial foundation for our city while maintaining steady growth. Our police, fire department, the 911 center, and first responders do a tremendous job keeping our city safe and secure. Our hard-working residents are employed by various industries that have helped build and finance our city endeavors. Our local businesses have been a tremendous asset to our community by attracting visitors from neighboring areas. Our community center, pools, parks, and sports fields rival those of many larger cities.
Paragould is a great place to live and raise a family. I am running because I want the city to remain fiscally sound while continuing our steady growth. I believe I can work with the Mayor and other council members to ensure our city thrives.
John Williams: Growing up just north of Paragould in Beech Grove, Paragould has always been my home: It’s where I attended school, it’s where I worship in Church, it’s where I shop, and it is now where my wife and I want to raise a family of our own someday. I love Paragould, and I want to give back by being a servant to the citizens of Ward 4 by serving on City Council. My campaign for city council is purely out of a desire to serve my fellow citizens. I believe Paragould is at a critical crossroads, and it would be an honor to serve on city council as a Conservative voice for Ward 4.
PDP: How are you qualified to serve on the council?
John Williams: At 25, I am passionate about serving my fellow citizens. I have been involved with local politics since the age of 15 or so. My wife and I are members of the Greene County Republican Committee. During our short time in Craighead County, we were active members of the Craighead Republican Committee. I have volunteered for multiple campaigns to help ensure we elect Conservatives to represent us in government. I have been blessed to participate in leadership and civic development programs, such as Citizenship Washington Focus with 4-H and the United States Senate Youth Program.
My involvement in civic education has prepared me to be a servant leader to the citizens of Ward 4. I understand that to serve in any elected capacity is an opportunity to give back to your community. My qualifications stem from my passion and readiness to hit the ground running on Day 1. I may be young, but so often we hear people say that we must make Paragould better for future generations. Well, I am part of the “future generation” so it’s time to let someone from the next generation have a voice in the matter. My time working in higher education has helped me develop the skills needed to work with a diverse group of people, and I have also learned the importance of being an effective communicator, skills that are needed when serving in any elected position. I will always work hard for the citizens of Ward 4 if elected to City Council.
Neal Adams: I am a Paragould business owner and involved in the daily aspects of the following businesses:
Adams Nursery & Landscaping (31 years)
1st Security Storage (14 years)
NJAdams Properties (Residential Construction – 20 Years).
Running these businesses has given me many skills that I believe are important to serving as your alderman:
An excellent understanding of financial responsibility
Working within the parameters of state and local government agencies, including Contractors Licensing Board, State Plant Board, Code Enforcement, and others.
Working with people, listening, and solving problems
Recognizing the importance of sustainable growth as new property developments are constructed, including proper zoning ordinances that will protect our property values while not overloading our current infrastructure.
From 1998 to 2010, I served in the leadership of the Arkansas Green Industry Association. I served first as a board member, then; vice president, and finally for two years as the president. During my time with this group, I was fortunate to work with some great leaders. I discovered all good leaders must be:
Have respect for the ideas of others
Have the courage to make hard decisions
Be empathetic to the needs of others
Be open and agile when opportunities arise
Know when you need to rely on the expertise of others
I have these qualities.
PDP: What are the most important issues your ward needs to face first if you are elected?
Neal Adams: Like the rest of the city, Ward 4 could benefit from the following:
Improving safety on streets that have become arterial connectors to adjacent neighborhoods.
Increasing code enforcement to keep our ward clean and free of dilapidated property.
Refine zoning to protect existing neighborhoods’ integrity, and property values as new developments and multi-family housing are built.
John Williams: Through my research, I have noticed that portions of Ward 4 are located in flood planes. As your next city councilman, my priority for Ward 4 will be with city infrastructure and flood mitigation programs. I want to ensure that Ward 4 is always prepared in the event of flooding, and that our city infrastructure works for all citizens.
As your city councilman, I will be a staunch advocate for state and federal grants. FEMA flood mitigation grants should be applied for to mitigate the effects of flooding in Paragould. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers the Community Development Block Grant Non-Entitlement program that I would like to explore further as a funding opportunity for city infrastructure repairs that may be needed. I believe grant funding is essential to keeping Paragould moving forward. Federal and state grant funding is important, because this means our federal and state tax dollars will be reinvested into our communities, rather than other cities or towns. Let’s keep our tax money in Paragould by focusing on grant programs to aid in flood mitigation and city infrastructure improvements and maintainment.
PDP: What citywide issues or projects do you see needing to be dealt with by the council?
John Williams: Job growth and creation is extremely important to Paragould. Paragould is uniquely situated near four colleges, A-State, BRTC, WBU, and CRC. We must work closely with local businesses to seek out interns from local colleges. Studies have shown that if you can get a college student “plugged in” with an internship, they are more likely to stay after graduation. The city must also work with local high schools to educate students on the opportunities available through learning a trade or skill. I believe city-wide job shadowing programs are key.
Another issue that is important to me is transparency. All city council meetings should be live-streamed on Facebook, especially since more and more are opting out of cable television. We also must make city budgets accessible on the City of Paragould’s website. Transparency is important for two reasons: elected officials work for YOU, the citizens of Paragould, and transparency promotes accountability.
A third issue that is important is quality of life projects. I support grant funded quality of life projects. Grants exist with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure all areas of the city have adequate lighting and sidewalks. We should be exploring possible grants through the Arkansas Economic Development Council to assist in the revitalization of Downtown Paragould. We also should be investigating grants through the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition for the creation of a centralized farmer’s market complex.
I am an advocate for quality of life projects, where grant funding and public/private partnerships are available. However, I do not support tax increases to pay for such programs. Keeping our tax burden low will also help bring more people and jobs to Paragould.
Neal Adams: In addition to the issues that affect Ward 4, the city needs to concentrate on:
Retaining and recruiting talented city employees in all departments, including public safety, through competitive compensation.
Expanding our economic development efforts by seeking job creation opportunities in emerging industries.
Broaden efforts to keep streets and sidewalks maintained and cleaner.
Explore alternative options to reduce mosquito populations.
PDP: Please tell us about yourself (family, employment, etc.)
Neal Adams: I am not a politician nor a member of any political party. I am a Paragould businessman with a strong work ethic and someone who cares deeply about this city.
I was born in Paragould and raised in Walcott by Larry Adams (a CPA in Paragould & former ASU professor) and Rita Adams (an educator & former Greene County Tech Superintendent).
I graduated from Greene County Tech in 1987. I studied accounting at Arkansas State University until my junior year when I left to start my nursery & landscaping business, which I am still running 31 years later.
For almost 26 years, I have been married to Jamie Jamison Adams, a GCT and ASU graduate. Jamie also works in Paragould. We have two dogs Quincy and Sawyer; both adopted from the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society.
I believe a strong work ethic is very important. My businesses keep me very busy, but when I am not working, I enjoy a few hobbies:
Many local and regional organizations and charities have made Paragould better. For me giving back means helping these groups continue their excellent work. A few of the organizations I have been involved with are:
The Children’s Home
Northeast Arkansas Humane Society
Food Bank of NEA
John Williams: I grew up in Beech Grove on an Angus Farm. My parents are Frank and Jackie Williams, and my brother is Jimmy Williams, married to Holly Williams. We eventually sold the cattle, but my family decided to jump into another business venture. Today, my family owns and operates Scatter Creek Berries and Produce. My brother and I have decided to take on another venture. We are in the early stages of developing our own candle business, Williams’ Wicks.
Currently, my wife, Lakyn, and I both work in Jonesboro. I work as the Associate Director of the Honors College, and my wife works for the City of Jonesboro as the Chief Grant Writer. We have one dog, Harley, an 8 month old Australian Shepherd. In our free time Lakyn and I enjoy cooking and traveling together. I also have played the fiddle since I was 9 years old. I am part of a Gospel Band, Doc’s Friends. We travel locally when possible to sing and play music at local churches and events. Above all, the most important thing in my life is my personal relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To God be all the Gory!