Leader Blues

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

TOP STORY>>Jacksonville to pick new mayor May 12

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

The residents of Jacksonville will elect a new mayor on May 12, unless the city council changes the date at its meeting Thursday night.

After more than 22 years of running the city, Mayor Tommy Swaim announced in mid-January that he was resigning as of July 1, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.

On Thursday, the council will approve the ordinance setting up a special election to replace Swaim. The winner of that election will serve out the remainder of Swaim’s current term to Dec. 31, 2010, and have the right to run for the office again.

According to the proposed ordinance, the filing period will run from Feb. 10 through noon March 12. All necessary paperwork must be filed with the Pulaski County clerk.

So far four people—Aldermen Kenny Elliot and Gary Fletcher, businessman Tommy Dupree and Randy (Doc) Rhodd of Motorcycle Ministries — have announced that they plan to seek Swaim’s seat.

If none of the candidates have a majority of the vote (50 percent, plus one vote), there will be a run-off on June 2 between the two candidates receiving the most votes.

The ordinance states that the “duly elected candidate, shall, upon proper certification, take the oath and office of the mayor on or about July 1.”

Swaim, who is in his 23rd year as mayor, said family played a major role in his decision. He told the council in January that he missed a lot of his children’s activities while mayor and didn’t want to do the same with his grandchildren.

“It was a hard decision to make, but the right one,” he said. “I’m comfortable with leaving. The city’s in good financial shape and has good employees.”

Also on the council agenda:

– The council will schedule a public hearing date to get input about raising water rates by at least one percent.

– Aldermen will decide whether or not to waive competitive bidding in the purchase of fire gear.

– The council will discuss and establish maintenance priorities to prevent structures from being condemned.

– Alderman Reedie Ray will be appointed to the city’s advertising and promotion commission, replacing Alderman Marshall Smith, who recently resigned after serving as the commission chairman for about four years.