Peck decided to run for city director after she discovered she enjoyed civic service over the past decade. She says that and recent changes in Little Rock led her to run for office.
“I know this is going to be hard, I know the challenge is immense,” says Peck. “But I think the rewards can be greater. I wouldn’t be stepping up and doing this if I didn’t feel so strongly about our potential and the fact I think that we need new direction, new leadership, and I think I can be one of those voices.”
One of the biggest developments in Little Rock this year is the refusal of state education commissioner Johnny Key to renew the contract of Little Rock School District superintendent Baker Kurrus, opting instead to hire Michael Poore from Bentonville to run the district. It’s a move Peck describes as alarming.
“It’s scary, frankly,” says Peck. “I am a product of Little Rock public schools, I firmly believe in local control of our public schools that has been taken away from us.
“It’s a pretty complex issue, but the long and short of it, I believe the more charter schools we have, the more damaging it will be to our public schools. I firmly believe that no new business is going to want to locate here, no young family with school-aged children is going to want to move here if we don’t have a very strong public school system.”
Another major issue facing the city right now is the problem of traffic on Interstate 30. The Little Rock board of directors has heard numerous reports and proposals on the issue, including a potential plan to widen the interstate highway to 10 lanes. Peck says the issue is crucial to the city’s future.
“I think we need to take about five steps back and really look at this closely,” says Peck. “I’ve been to a couple of presentations, the last major one by the highway department, at which time they actually listened to public opinion and made some change, which I thought was encouraging.
“I hope that we have some open and honest communication and that we’ll find something everyone can live with. There is congestion, and that’s something we need to address. But I think we really need to think how that’s going to impact downtown merchants, downtown neighborhoods, and we need to be really smart about this. This is going to have an impact on generations to come.”
If elected, Peck plans to keep her duties at Trio’s while simultaneously serving on the board. Peck says she knows it will be challenging to her on a personal and professional level, but she also says that her work in the restaurant industry will help her prepare to hold public office.
“Running a restaurant is kind of like running a political campaign,” says Peck. “Your staff and your customers are your constituents. There’s a reason I have a dozen people that have been here for 15-plus years. I listen with compassion, I respond and I know how to work well with all kinds of people.
I don’t think there’s ever been a time in Little Rock, and I’ve been a lifelong resident, where there’s so much going on, so much potential, and I think we all need to take a couple steps back and all learn to get along and work towards a common goal of making Little Rock a safe and wonderful place for citizens and visitors alike.”