Jarred Rego already got his feet wet for his new role in Fort Smith city politics.


Rego, the senior development officer at Mercy Hospital and former campaign manager for Mayor George McGill, has already attended city meetings and asked questions about city matters such as budgets and the Consent Decree as Ward 1’s next city director. It’s his latest political role in a career that has included senior leadership and communication positions for Colorado 5th District U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, and former Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach (R). He’s also managed more than a dozen political campaigns at the federal, state and local level.


When asked why he wanted to replace outgoing city director Keith Lau, Rego said he believes in public service and "blooming where you’re planted."


"If you have the energy and the ability and the skillset and the time to commit to public service, I believe you should," Rego said.


Rego will take over for Lau as the city battles back from cutbacks to manage costs under the financial impact of COVID-19 and continues to negotiate with the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice over the federal consent decree. As for his ward specifically, he succeeds a director who helped navigate a land dispute over Casey’s General Store at South 46th Street and Rogers Avenue. Ward 1 residents also expressed concerns over inflated water bills in the last year.


Rego stressed communication with the appropriate parties in reference to COVID-19. He said this will allow decisions, like hiring back positions cut in the first half of the year to save money, to be made.


He also stressed communication in negotiations over the Consent Decree, which has caused water bills in the city to go up 167% since 2015 to pay for sewer violations.


"We want to make sure we are fulfilling the obligations that are placed upon our city and our community by it, and that we also are doing what we can, appropriately, to advocate for additional time and the ability, if you will, to pay and fulfill the obligations of the consent decree in a way that is fulfillable by our community," he said.


In a more rhetorical sense, Rego said he wants to focus on three things as a city director: "Leading in a bolder way, thinking in a bigger way and prospering in a broader way."


"The responsibility of a city director is to motivate, encourage and inspire people that any challenge can be overcome. We should declare with strength and pride in our voice that Fort Smith is a great city, and we’re already filled with potential," he said, citing the city’s real estate costs, University of Arkansas Fort Smith, the city’s medical infrastructure and its public school system.


Rego encouraged residents both in Ward 1 and throughout the city to imagine what the city can be on a larger scale and act and behave in a positive way about the city. He said this helps the attitude of the city as well as more tangible things like attracting jobs and residents to the city.


In speaking of how he wants to improve the city, Rego mentioned his first-grade daughter.


"(First graders have) embarked on a 12-year audition period with our community. They’ve got 12 years to decide whether they’re going to stay here and continue as part of the fabric of this community or whether they’re going to move on once they graduate from high school," he said. "Twelve years may not sound like a long time, but that’s only three election cycles, and I think that could happen before we know it. There’s work to be done to make sure it’s the best, most prosperous community it can be here in the state of Arkansas."