Written by Sophie Rossitto // Photo provided by Mat Faulkner
Harding alumnus Mat Faulkner stepped into a new role as Searcy mayor last month, as he helped initiate plans to stimulate the city’s economy, community development and more.
Faulkner took office Jan. 1 after defeating former Mayor Kyle Osborne in the runoff election on Dec. 6, 2022, according to an article from The Daily Citizen on Dec. 7, 2022.
Faulkner said that during his first four weeks in office, he began adjusting to his new workflow in City Hall and helped develop the city’s annual budget while learning to find a balance between working and spending time with his family.
“The transition has been a whirlwind so far,” Faulkner said.
Since moving to Searcy from Florida over two decades ago, Faulkner has served in a number of roles in the community, according to his election campaign website. He was CEO of the marketing agency Think Idea Studio, which has provided services to many local organizations, for about 20 years. He also organized efforts to help Searcy win season 4 of the reality television show “Small Business Revolution” in 2019.
“Through this work, I have been able to form many relationships and really get to know those who we call neighbors in our community,” Faulkner said.
Heather Kemper, director of Alumni and Parent Relations at Harding, said she and Faulkner met over 20 years ago and bonded through joining the same church small group, becoming neighbors and watching their children grow up together. The pair collaborated with Main Street Searcy and other community members to create the Beats and Eats festivals and events in 2017.
Kemper said Faulkner has found success by not only dreaming big but by putting his innovative ideas into practice.
“When he sees a need or he becomes aware of a need, he’s a person who takes action,” Kemper said.
Faulkner said his goals as mayor include improving the beauty and design of city parks, sidewalks and other public features, as well as creating financial plans for facilities such as the Searcy Swim Center. He said that during the first city council meeting this year, officials formed two committees to work toward these objectives.
City officials have also hired a consulting firm, Boyette Strategic Advisors, to design a plan to bring more industry to the city, build a capable workforce to fill existing jobs and create new jobs, Faulkner said.
Since graduating from Harding, Faulkner said he has been blessed to make connections with people across different departments on campus. On Jan. 22, he attended a Chinese New Year celebration in Cone Chapel, where he visited with participants and took part in a craft activity, according to a Facebook post from Faulkner that night. Event coordinator Yuee Chen said College of Bible and Ministry instructor Gary Jackson, a minister to the Chinese church in Searcy, is good friends with Faulkner.
Chen said the mayor was very approachable and friendly during the celebration, and she was impressed to see him taking pictures with children and families.
“I can tell that everyone loves Mat, and he loves them,” Chen said.