Planner Announces City Council Bid in Fayetteville | Politics
FAYETTEVILLE -- After a few weeks of testing the waters, Planning Commissioner William Chesser announced that he would be running for the City Council seat formerly held by Sarah Lewis in Ward 4. Chesser was born in Fayetteville and grew up in Ward 4 on Markham Hill.
Currently a high school biology teacher, Chesser has worked in many fields in Fayetteville, among them as a communications director for a federal transportation research agency at the University of Arkansas, as a construction coordinator, during which time he worked on the old Fayetteville library renovation, and professional land planner. He holds BA degrees in philosophy (cum laude, emphasis - ethics) and in anthropology along with a minor in geology and an MA in anthropology.
“Having a background in land planning is pretty good experience for working as a city councilman,” Chesser says. “I also feel that I can use my background in studying culture and community effectively to govern.”
William Chesser started his record of public service in Fayetteville as a member of the Board of Adjustment in 2006, where he served until taking a position on the Fayetteville Planning Commission in 2010, a position he still holds. Though he has enjoyed serving as an appointed member of Fayetteville’s government, he feels that he could do much more as an elected representative of the city.
“Planning Commissioners are charged with interpreting the law only,” says Chesser, “while this is a very necessary part of city government, I want to use the experience I have garnered over the years to do more than that, actively altering policies that I have only had the power to interpret as a BOA member and Planning Commissioner.”
Chesser has a number of ideas that he thinks could improve both Ward 4 and the city at large:
“One thing I see people worry a lot about is traffic and pedestrian safety, especially as the city becomes more walkable. Some solutions we have used for traffic control have, I think, turned out to be sub-optimal. For example, there are better traffic calming solutions than just speed tables. While they can be used effectively in some circumstances or in combination with other solutions, many times other approaches can be better at achieving the same results. Also, when something like a speed table is the only solution, I would like to see the city use a basic rule of thumb: the speed table should not be rated at a speed lower than the speed limit on the street in which it’s built (for example, a 15 mph speed table on a 25 mph street). If 25 mph is the accepted safe speed limit for the street, why would we force traffic to reduce speed by 10 mph every few hundred feet?”
- While not convinced that an overlay district for development near the university is necessary, Chesser feels that better cooperation between the university and city where planning is concerned is an excellent idea and would pursue it by increasing communication between the two entities.
- More trail connections in Ward 4. “The trails are one of Fayetteville’s best features. While improvements are happening in parts of Ward 4, I would love to see more trails for our part of the city,” he says.
- Mobile vending – There has been a lot of conversation lately about how we approach vendors who don’t have brick and mortar businesses. Mobile vending is a growing part of Fayetteville business. Chesser feels that the code needs to be updated to reflect these changes while not disenfranchising existing businesses and while making those carts work within the framework of City Plan 2030.
Chesser has lived in Fayetteville for most of his life (26 of his 37 years). He grew up on campus where his father, Rev. Lewis Chesser, was the Wesley Foundation director from 1965-1982. He returned for college in 1993 and hasn’t left since. “I just want to keep Fayetteville great. It has changed a lot in my life here, but has always stayed great. That requires direction by people who really care about the city and know how to plan for it.”