Gravette may­oral can­di­dates face off in fo­rum

Gravette may­oral can­di­dates de­bate is­sues.

Westside Eagle-Observer - - NEWS - SU­SAN HOL­LAND shol­land@nwadg.com

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.

Sub­mit­ted/STEVE HUCKRIEDE

May­oral can­di­date Dale Ayres.

Sub­mit­ted/STEVE HUCKRIEDE

In­cum­bent mayor Kurt Mad­dox.

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