Whenever I drive over to my hometown of Fort Smith, Ark., to visit my widowed mother, I manage to squeeze in a visit to my favorite local coffee shop, Fort Smith Coffee Co.
Located just off downtown’s Garrison Ave., Fort Smith Coffee Co. has a great vibe with a mix of young hipsters and older folks like me (who skew the demographics of the place!). It has good coffee, good background music, plenty of sun and is a great place to hang.
So, I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat on a stool with the sun at my back watching people come and go.
Suddenly, a handsome man wearing a suit and tie came through the door. He seemed to know everyone, laughing and joking with other patrons as he ordered his coffee.
As I started to depart a few minutes later, it occurred to me that this was George McGill, Fort Smith’s newly elected Mayor. He was seated near the exit reading the newspaper as I headed to the door, so I walked up and said “you look like you could be the Mayor.”
He laughed, stood up and shook my hand as we introduced ourselves. We talked for a few minutes, and he touted the city for all the good things that are happening like a recent music festival and a downtown public art project called “The Unexpected.”
Then he told me that his election as Mayor says a lot about the city because “African-Americans make up only 8 percent of the population.”
I agree. I’m proud of Fort Smith for electing George McGill as its Mayor, and for the exciting things going on like public art and construction of the new U.S. Marshall’s museum along the Arkansas River.
And that a place like Fort Smith Coffee Co. was thriving on a Saturday morning.