Gravette mayoral candidates face off in forum
Gravette mayoral candidates debate issues.
GRAVETTE — The two candidates for mayor of Gravette, Dale Ayres and incumbent Kurt Maddox, went head-to-head in a candidate forum Tuesday, Oct. 16, at the Gravette High School performing arts center. The forum was suggested by high school principal Shannon Mitchell and organized by senior Alyssa Allen, who moderated the event. Allen was assisted by Gravette alumni Micah Wallace, Billy Cook, Andra Atteberry and Zach Duncan.
Kristen Partain and Mason Puryear served as timers for the forum. Each candidate spoke in turn, answering questions presented by Allen. The first segment, “Get to Know the Candidate,” was devoted to questions about the candidate’s personal lives, such as where they were from, what jobs they held, whether they had run for office before and what inspired them to seek the mayor’s position.
Ayres, who was born in Sodus Point, N.Y., and is currently retired after working more than 30 years for Walmart, said that, with the projected future growth in Gravette, he feels there is a need for better planning and better budgeting. This is his first time to run for public office.
Maddox was born in Poplar Bluff, Mo., and has been mayor of Gravette since January 2015. He had served a term on the city council prior to being elected as mayor. He said he wished to continue his efforts to make Gravette a safe, sustainable, serviceoriented community.
A second segment of the forum was labeled “Frequently Asked and Important Questions.” The two candidates were asked questions about what they felt Gravette was lacking and how they would meet those needs, how to foster economic growth and their future plans for the city if elected.
In the third and final segment of the forum, “Community Concerns,” audience members were allowed to write down questions, which were then brought to the stage for the candidates to answer.
Mayor Maddox said he hoped to keep making improvements in the infrastructure, to attract people and thus to attract businesses. His future plans included building more sidewalks and extending sewer and water service out to Stagecoach Road. When asked why so many projects were going on at once, he explained that the projects being done were ones approved by voters in the millage election. Forum participants also asked why so many good sidewalks were being torn up and redone, and he said that the new sidewalks had to meet grant regulations and several current sidewalks did not meet the requirement to be eight feet wide. When asked about the city’s large debt, he said that much of it was due to bond issues voted by the electorate and projected that the bonds would be paid off ahead of schedule.
Ayres expressed a desire to make improvements in the city’s water and sewer system and to address issues with poor drainage at some locations in town. He said he felt there was a need for greater transparency in city affairs and he was concerned about the issue of water rights and how it was being dealt with. He wants to work with the city’s museum to continue to preserve local and area history and to ensure that, as it grows, the area does not lose its hometown feel. He expressed a concern about the city’s cutting EMS and fire budgets and Mayor Maddox explained that these budgets were not being cut; they were just not being increased.
At the conclusion of the program, Allen thanked all the volunteers who helped with the forum and invited all who attended to a meet and greet session in the lobby. Cookies and ginger ale were served during the meet and greet.
Mayoral candidate Dale Ayres.
Incumbent mayor Kurt Maddox.