The Benton City Council personnel committee, along with other council members, has chosen to appoint Steve Brown to the vacant Ward 1 council position left open after the resignation of Kerry Murphy.
“I am very excited,” Brown said. “I really don’t think they could have gone wrong with any of the candidates and it’s fortunate that I was selected. I am very happy and looking forward to the challenge.”
Brown, who is the CEO of Alcoa Community Federal Credit Union, said that his experiences in the financial services industry will be invaluable in facing some of the challenges the city has seen pertaining to revenue.
“I am really anxious to get plugged in and really understand what the challenges are,” Brown said.
Brown is the president-elect for Benton/Bauxite Rotary Club and a former member of the Benton Parks Commission where he served as chairman for three of his five year tenure. He is the current chairman of the Benton Area Chamber of Commerce.
Brown was unanimously chosen through an interview process to fill the Ward 1 position. Other residents vying for the seat were Carl West and Jonathan Long.
All members of the city council were present for the meeting. Now that Brown has been chosen, city attorney Brent Houston will draft a resolution that will be voted on during the regularly scheduled August council meeting. Brown’s position will not be considered official until the resolution is passed.
The three candidates were each given a 15-minute interview session with the aldermen and were asked the same set of questions. They were also given an opportunity to make a final statement after the question and answer portion was complete. Alderman Evelyn Reed asked each candidate the questions.
“I feel like I have a lot of good experience, both professionally and from a community perspective, that would add value to the citizens and I want to put that experience to use,” Brown said when asked why he wanted to be on the council.”
When asked what he believed the main goals for Benton should over the next 18 months, Brown said he believed the budget should be the most important focus and that the city should make a strong financial plan for the future.
“I think my experience in finance will definitely bring value…I am in the financial industry and I understand numbers,” Brown said. “I’m not an accountant and can’t put them where they go, but I can definitely interpret them, understand trends and build projections from them.”
Brown was also asked what he believed were the three most important issues that Ward 1 is facing.
“We’ve got some street issues,” Brown said. “We’ve got some drainage issues that have to be the top of priority list for Ward 1.”
Brown also said with the progress being made in new developments within the Ward, traffic patterns also need to be monitored.
“I think those are three key ares in Ward 1 that need addressing,” Brown said.
As far as changes in the Ward, Brown said that, if appointed, he sees himself not just as a representative for his Ward, but as a representative for all the residents of Benton.
“From my perspective when I’m looking at every issue, I’m looking at it as how does it benefit the city as a whole - not just particularly Ward 1,” Brown said. “Obviously, I’ve got a vested interest in Ward 1, but I want to make sure every issue is viewed from that perspective.”
In a final statement to the council to close out his interview, Brown said that he really wants to give back to the community.
“I’ve known a lot of you guys and ladies for a long time,” Brown said. “I think you know where my heart is at. I’ve got a servant's heart. I really want to give back. I think it should show you my level of interest in serving in that I actually ran in the last election…I think that does show that I do want to serve.”
Brown added that while he is not a Benton native, he has built his life here.
“I’m not from Benton, but this is my home,” Brown said. “I’ve lived here, by far, the majority of my life. I may be from Augusta, but that’s not my home. Benton is my home and I care very deeply about it.”
The council will meet at 7 p.m. on Aug. 26 for their regular meeting and is expected to pass a resolution making Brown’s appointment permanent. The meeting will be held at the Benton Municipal Complex, located at 114 S. East St. All meetings are open to the public and attendance is encouraged.
“I very much look forward to working for and serving the city of Benton,” Brown said.