Phyllis Beard is filing today as a candidate for City Director in District 2.
The Spa City native has spent her entire life in politics — from holding signs outside of polling places as a little girl to traveling around the country on the U.S. presidential campaign trail.
“Politics runs through my veins,” said Beard, an educator and jazz musician.
She felt compelled to run when she heard that long-time City Director Elaine Jones would not seek re-election and wondered who would fill her seat.
“There was no sense of sitting back, waiting for someone to take the lead,” Beard said. “I know this community as well as anyone.”
If her last name sounds familiar, that’s because she’s the daughter of eight-term Hot Springs City Councilman Elmer Beard. As a child, Beard recalls attending City Council meetings with her father. Today, she hopes to carry on his legacy by serving in the very same City Hall chambers where he once served.
After living many years in Minneapolis and New York, Beard returned home in 2016 to care for her octogenarian father, who was recently widowed. She began accompanying him to meetings around town and fielding calls from the community.
“My father has been out of office for more than 35 years, but the calls for help never stopped,” Beard said. “Residents always call for a range of reasons. They lost their job. They don’t have running water. Their child is having trouble in school. They are being treated unfairly.”
While some problems couldn’t be addressed at a municipal level, Beard said her father was always willing to point residents in the right direction.
“I learned how to listen to the concerns of the people,” she said. “Since my father is retired, I help him to resolve those issues now.”
Beard anticipates that the absence of Director Jones will also impact the community when she leaves office in December.
“She’s been holding down the fort in the district for nearly a quarter of a century. That’s a high bar,” Beard said. “Residents will remember her for beautifying Malvern Avenue, securing funds for the Gateway Community Association, and preserving the National Baptist Building, which is a treasured monument in our city,” Beard said. “I plan to continue her efforts and fight for the best interest of the good folks in District 2.”
One of those interests is ensuring that youth have activities and outlets. “I want young people to have similar opportunities that I had,” said Beard, adding that working at Magic Springs as a teen was the coolest first job ever. She also has fond memories of cleaning up a federal bathhouse with her Girl Scout troop, serving as a junior usher at the historic Roanoke Baptist Church, and attending activities sponsored by the local unit of the NAACP of which she is a lifetime member.
When Beard speaks of her hometown, you can hear the pride in her voice. “I have taught and performed all around the world, and I can attest that Hot Springs National Park is one of the most special places on earth.”