El Dorado Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer spoke to constituents Tuesday night at the American Legion in her first speech before an organization since her swearing in.
Smith-Creer said that her first week in office has been busy – constituents have come to visit her office, offering ideas for the future and sharing complaints about various issues, while she has been meeting with police and fire department officials, City Shop employees and other colleagues.
“I’m not coming into office thinking that I’m going to change everything,” she said. “For the things we can improve on, I think it’s very important that we take advantage of those things.”
She said now that she has taken office, she will start focusing on some of the platform issues she ran her campaign for mayor on. She noted five platform points she wanted to address as mayor: education, entrepreneurship and industry, community, quality of life and public safety.
On education, Smith-Creer said she hopes to increase civic engagement in El Dorado. She said she would like to eventually organize town hall meetings that would let residents meet their City Council members and learn about municipal government.
“What I’d love to do would be something like a town hall meeting in every ward,” she said. “I really want people to get involved with what’s going on in the city. People need to know what ward you live in, who your alderperson is.”
She said she would like to see the community sharing their opinions with the city government on issues like infrastructure, public safety, quality of life and any other business they find important.
Smith-Creer also addressed future growth for El Dorado. She noted that she spent 12 years serving on South Arkansas Community College’s Board of Trustees and said she has noticed that relatively few students stay in town to attend college there.
“We need to give our young people something to come back to, or even to stay here in El Dorado,” she said. “We are a unique place here in El Dorado with the things we have to offer. We need to just continue to make some opportunities for our young people to want to stay here.”
She said she would like to find ways to retain the current population as well as attract new residents. Those efforts could involve finding more activities for young people, like teenagers, to engage in, improving infrastructure and beautifying the city and having a transparent administration citizens can voice concerns and ideas to, among others.
“When we look at one area of town and it doesn’t look like the other area of town, we know that we have a lot of underserved communities, and that’s definitely part of our plan is to do whatever we need to do to bring those areas of the community up to par – and a lot of that, I think, is people knowing what they can do and how to do it to make things better,” Smith-Creer said. “People just need to know how to get things done.”
Smith-Creer will preside over her first City Council meeting as mayor tonight. They will meet at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. She said she is still considering candidates for an executive administrative assistant and hopes to make a decision by Friday.
Throughout her talk, Smith-Creer emphasized how important hearing her constituents’ ideas and opinions will be to her administration.
“It was never about me, individually. It was always about us being able to work together,” Smith-Creer said. “I believe that’s the only way I can have an effective and productive administration is if we listen to the people.”
Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.