Leader Blues

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TOP STORY >> Stumbaugh says he’s a candidate for Cabot mayor

Former Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh addresses supporters at city hall.

By JOAN MCCOY

Leader staff writer

Standing on the steps of Cabot City Hall with 15 U.S. flags behind him, former Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh told about 100 supporters Monday evening that he is running for a second term.

Stumbaugh is the third candidate to announce. Bill Cypert, secretary and spokesman for the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission, and Alderman Eddie Cook also are running.

Stumbaugh told the group, which included friends, family, fellow Republicans and members of his church, Christ Worship Center, that if elected he will be a “more humble servant” than he was in his first term.

Stumbaugh, now in his mid-40s, had taken a leave of absence from the Little Rock Police Department to run for mayor eight years ago. He did not seek another term but ran for Congress instead and lost.

Today, he works with large accounts for the garbage company IESI.

Stumbaugh counts among the successes of his first term the new community center and animal shelter which he pushed for.

When money to build those projects fell short, construction required the extension of a one-cent sales tax, which he opposed.

Cook and former Alderman Odis Waymack sponsored the referendum that put the question of extending the tax to the voters.

The extension of the tax raised more than $30 million and also paid for the construction of the wastewater treatment plant without raising sewer rates, the city’s part of the railroad overpass and about $2 million for street repairs.

Although the community center and animal shelter were built during Stumbaugh’s term, the other projects were completed under Mayor Eddie Joe Williams.

Williams, who is running for the state Senate and not a second term as mayor, was the only candidate Stumbaugh alluded to during the 15-minute announcement.

Just before 6 p.m., the traffic light at Second and Main Streets allowed only two or three cars to cross Main at one time.

Without using his name, Stumbaugh said that despite Williams’ attempts at improving traffic flow, it is at its “all-time worst.”

“We rerouted traffic; we timed lights and it wasn’t like it was today,” Stumbaugh said.

Stumbaugh also counted among his successes the special census that brought in new tax revenue mostly for streets and the construction of sidewalks around the schools with a grant that started under his predecessor and ended under Williams.

Although he didn’t elaborate, Stumbaugh told the crowd of well-wishers that he had made some mistakes during his first term because he was human.

But he said he had always worked hard to “protect kids and families” and to build better police and fire departments and that he is the candidate who will be proactive in seeing to their needs.

The announcement started with a prayer by his pastor asking God to sanctify the start of Stumbaugh’s campaign and an introduction by longtime friend Robin Standridge.

“I’ll do anything for Stubby because he’ll do anything for me,” Standridge said, adding, “Stubby’s promised that if he wins this time, he’s going to listen to me.”

As mayor, Stumbaugh was often embroiled in controversy. He hired his friends, sometimes to positions for which they proved to be unqualified, his critics said.

Several lawsuits against the mayor, council and city were filed during that time, including a suit by City Clerk-Treasurer Marva Verkler, who wanted back the duties Stumbaugh had asked the council to take from her.

That suit was eventually dropped and her duties were restored when Williams took office.

Stumbaugh feuded with the Cabot Chamber of Commerce and his working relationship with the Lonoke County judge was poor. When Judge Charlie Troutman asked during a council meeting for financial help building the road that connects Hwy. 5 to Walmart, Stumbaugh asked Troutman if he owned land in the area.

And since some council members supported the mayor and some didn’t, council meetings were often long and confrontational.