Molly Rawn, Fayetteville tourism chief executive officer, announces bid to become city’s mayor

Molly Rawn (Courtesy/Stephen Ironside)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Molly Rawn, chief executive officer of the city's tourism bureau, Experience Fayetteville, says she intends to listen to what residents want in her bid to become mayor.

Rawn, 41, announced on Monday her intention to run for mayor. She will challenge Lioneld Jordan, who has served as mayor since 2009 and said he plans to run for a fifth term.

Rawn has been CEO of Experience Fayetteville since 2016. She was previously director of development and communication at the Scott Family Amazeum in Bentonville. She has lived in the city since 2006 and originally hails from Paragould. She and her husband have three children.

Rawn said she has thought about running for office for years. Her campaign has three pillars: access, partnerships and innovation.

Rawn said she wants to ensure every resident has access to services that will enable them to live their best lives. She said she wants the city to partner with community organizations, regional entities, local businesses and educational institutions to address challenges. She said she wants the city to remain at the forefront of innovation when it comes to growth, technology and environmentally friendly practices.

Conversations with residents will inform Rawn on the specifics of what access, partnerships and innovation should look like in the city, she said. It's why she made her announcement more than a year in advance of the election, she said.

"I'm excited about having the time to do a lot of listening to people who live in Fayetteville about what they want to see in their city moving forward, and how we can work toward that together," Rawn said.

Rawn's campaign will focus on the future, she said. She has lived in the city longer than anywhere else and is deeply invested in its future because it's where she is raising her children, she said.

"It's a decision I did not make lightly," Rawn said. "It's something that came about after a lot of discussion with my family and with people in the community whom I deeply respect."

Rawn said she wants to build upon her own history of community service and progress. She serves on several nonprofit boards, including the Northwest Arkansas Tourism Association, the Northwest Arkansas Film and Entertainment Commission, the Arkansas Hospitality Association's Travel Council and the Arkansas Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus. She also is a member of the Fayetteville chapter of the Philanthropic Education Organization, which provides educational opportunities for women.

Rawn said she is passionate about expanding opportunities for women in civic leadership and wants to address the city's housing crisis.

Fayetteville hasn't had a female mayor since Marilyn Heifner served in 1986 and 1987, according to information on the city's website.

The nonpartisan election will be Nov. 5, 2024. The Fayetteville mayor serves four-year terms, is not term-limited, and currently earns $145,766.