While I applaud Mr. Vance Johnson's opinion that Fort Smith needs a better plan for growth, in order to discuss this rationally, we need to begin with facts. The first and most relevant fact is the actual population of Fort Smith today and, to respond directly to Mr. Johnson, in 1986. According to the Census data, the population of Fort Smith was 71,626 in 1980 and 72,798 in 1990. The maximum population figure Mr. Johnson might be referring to is the population of the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA). In 1990, according to the Census data, it was 94,486. So, while I agree we need to up our game, growth wise, the population of Fort Smith was not 150,000 in 1986 and, sadly, has not reached that level yet.

Whatever Mr. Johnson's concerns with Mayor Sanders, since he is not running for re-election, Mr. Johnson has the opportunity to look carefully at the two candidates who are running, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith student, Luis Andrade, and Rep. George McGill (D-Fort Smith). This is the first step to changing the way our town approaches the issue of growth. The second step would be to get involved. Find out which agencies are directing the city's growth strategies, talk to the people involved and if you don't like what they are doing, make positive suggestions. Additionally, in your letters to the paper, be specific about your concerns and make suggestions as to how you would like to see them addressed.

A democracy needs the input of all citizens, but not just a complaining letter.