Brian Chilson
FRESH FACE: Andrea Lewis started with the Little Rock Board of Directors in January 2023.

Only one candidate for the Little Rock Board of Directors unseated an incumbent in the November 2022 election: Andrea Hogan Lewis. She beat longtime city director Doris Wright by promising the residents of Ward 6 in west central Little Rock she would fight for a better sense of community, increased public safety and better infrastructure. Lewis, 41, brings a fresh perspective to the city’s leadership. She’s the only Black woman on the 10-member board, the second youngest director and the only one with school-aged children. Nearly a year into the job, Lewis said the work of a city board member extends well beyond the hour or two spent at public meetings every Tuesday. She considers her role customer service for the city: day-to-day communication with constituents, meeting people from all walks of life and unexpectedly connecting with someone at the grocery store. In addition to her city role, Lewis also serves as assistant vice president and a Community Reinvestment Act officer at First Security Bank.

Where does your passion for this work come from? My dad was a city councilman in Joiner [Mississippi County]. We moved to Turrell [Crittenden County] and he just knows everybody there. My grandmother, his mother, people would come to her house on Sundays … and it wasn’t just for the family. If anybody came in and needed some socks, she’d go get ’em socks. If they needed a plate, she got ’em a plate. I just grew up seeing it, and I don’t think I really knew back then what it was doing to me personally. It helped shape and mold me. If you have it to give, then why not? I give thanks to God, because I know without him none of this would even be possible.

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How has it felt to take over a position where some of the constituents told you they felt neglected under previous leadership? It’s great. The reward is there. I didn’t know how much of a neglect that there was. I didn’t know the void they felt. Because it [lasted for] so many years, it became “This is what it is.” And it’s like, “No, this is not what it has to be like.” We need to take charge of our communities, get your neighborhoods back, and you do have a voice.

How did you feel within the first few months as a city director? Honestly, it was a lot of unknowns. I’m the type who will ask questions when I don’t understand. I was quiet on purpose because this is a new role and I’m just trying to feel my way. I know it’s a lot of moving parts, so I was just sitting back, monitoring and observing. It gets to a point where some stuff is just right and wrong, so let me speak up. That’s what you’re really starting to see.

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You and Antwan Phillips are very young compared to the rest of the board. Can you talk about what it’s like to join the board as a young Black woman? I think it’s a great value; a great asset to add. We’re in a different stage of life, and we’re able to remind the rest of the board that there are key points and players in this city that we need to be mindful about. I’m hoping that our positions will bring other people to think, “You know what, they did it and we can do it, too.” That’s what’s going to continue to move us forward.

How do you think Little Rock, as a community, can approach crime in a proactive way? I’m still a believer in getting involved with the police department and getting to know the officers. Having the officers come to the neighborhood association meetings, having more people in general come to those meetings, that’s where you really start to form those relationships. We also have to get the kids more involved in what’s going on. I’m a big proponent of the community centers. They have great services, great athletics. There are things that we just have to get out and inform our people about.

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What have you done since joining the board that you’re the most proud of? We just had the Ward 6 block party [Oct. 28] at the West Central Community Center. My goal is to continue to have it larger and move it around different parts of the ward … We have to encompass the entire ward. All of the different neighborhoods that make up the ward are unique, and we need to highlight all of those. More than 40 vendors signed up for free. They came and made money for free, and that’s what it’s all about. We can highlight these small businesses. It was just a great, great atmosphere to have the young people and the older generation mix and mingle.

What are you prioritizing in the new year? Cleaning up the neighborhoods. If we can take care of the small stuff, it doesn’t grow into large stuff. That’s where all the [previous] neglect came from because it just piled one thing after another. We need all of Little Rock looking presentable, across the board. No one can do it all; it takes all of us to do a little bit. I also want to focus more on what we can do to pour into our youth and help with getting our seniors more involved. I used to say a lot, ‘Live, work, play and worship.’ That is literally what we need to focus on for everybody.

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Fun fact: I have a twin brother.

Go-to karaoke song: Anything Beyoncé, but probably “Upgrade U (feat. Jay-Z).”

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Guilty pleasure: Reality TV. “The Real Housewives,” “The Kardashians” and “Married to Medicine” are some of my favorites.