Leader Blues

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

TOP STORY >> Mayoral candidates filing

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Local developer Tommy Dupree and Alderman Kenny Elliot have filed their required petition of signatures with the Pulaski County clerk as candidates for mayor of Jacksonville.

The filing period started Tuesday and runs until noon March 2.

Jacksonville residents interested in running for mayor in the May 12 special election need to turn in a petition with at least 30 signatures of Jacksonville residents who are registered voters.

The Pulaski County clerk’s staff is in the process of verifying the signatures on Dupree’s and Elliot’s petitions. Once verified, those two will be certified as candidates.

Three other residents — Alderman Gary Fletcher, motorcycle minister Randy (Doc) Rhodd and former police Lieutenant Bill Shelly – have also announced their intentions to run for the spot being vacated by the retirement of Mayor Tommy Swaim.

Swaim announced in January that he would retire from his $95,000 a year job come July 1.

Swaim said he decided to retire to spend more time with his family. His term expires Dec. 31, 2010.

Elliott, who has been on the city council for 12 years, says he wants to bring his experience and knowledge of city government as he seeks to move behind the mayor’s desk in a special election.

Elliott, a Jacksonville native, said he wants to make improvements in the Sunnyside Addition, a low-income neighborhood with decaying housing and high crime.

Elliott, 55, works for the Pulaski County Special School District, where he is coordinator of energy management.

Dupree, 71, whose family helped settle Jacksonville, said his platform includes widening Hwy. 67/167 with interchange improvements; establishing a public safety commission with police, fire and emergency medical department under it; encouraging expansion of the city along Hwy. 67/167, Hwy. 161 and Hwy. 294 through annexation; supporting creation of a north Pulaski County school district; working toward expansion and improvement of the Jacksonville park system, and continuing Keep Jacksonville Beautiful improvement projects.

Fletcher, who has been on the city council for 30 years, says he’s ready to become mayor. “I want to bring passion to the job,” said Fletcher, who is 54. “We’ve lost that passion when it comes to running the city.”

“I want to bring back the human factor to government,” Fletcher said in an interview. “We need to make some changes. We need someone with fresh ideas. We need someone with passion, energy and vision and try to inspire others.”

Fletcher said he believes in the three R’s to move forward — “re-identify ourselves, reinvest in ourselves and rejuvenate the community.”