Monday, November 13, 2006

TOP STORY >>Outgoing mayor is hunting new job

Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh will need a new job Jan. 1, and he says he’s looking for one that pays a little more than he is accustomed to earning.

“I’ve been a public servant most of my life,” he said. “I’m going to try to find something that pays better.”

He isn’t ruling out anything, he said, with the exception of returning to the Little Rock Police Department, where he worked before he was elected mayor, but he says there are other opportunities for people with his background and experience.

Stumbaugh, a Republican, was in the third year of his first term as mayor when he announced he was running against First District Congressman Marion Berry, the Democrat who had held the seat nine years.

He said two days after he lost the election to Berry 82,914 to 36,895, that because of the war in the Middle East, Republicans couldn’t get elected for national office this year. With his background in law enforcement he could move into private investigation, a growing field in the central part of the state, he said. He isn’t ruling out a future in the Republican Party, though he said that is not a real consideration at this time.

He owns a home in Cabot and has no plans to leave, but that too is subject to change.

“There could be opportunities outside the state,” he said.

He said he didn’t want to dwell on the things he wished he had done differently. But he is proud of his accomplishments while in office. He was instrumental in building a much needed animal shelter and community center.

Both buildings were made possible in part by the continuation of a one-cent tax, which he opposed, but they were started at his urging.

Stumbaugh asked the council to create the positions of public works director, finance director and operations director shortly after he took office. Eddie Joe Williams, the Republican candidate who won 52 percent of the vote in a four-man race for mayor, could ask the council to do away with them when he takes office in January. But Stumbaugh says he counts the creation of the positions among his accomplishments because now there are people who are keeping up with where the money is going as well as the status of various city projects.

Early in his administration, Stumbaugh limited access to city employees. A memo to employees said they should not talk to the press. Later, council members were asked to not waste employees’ time. If they needed information they could come to him, he told them.

But even though he limited access to his employees, this reporter can attest that he always returned phone calls even when the topics he was asked to discuss were controversial or unflattering to his administration. And he never failed to provide access to those key employees who might have more answers than he could provide.

Stumbaugh won his first political race four years ago when he took the job away from two-term Mayor Joe Allman. He said Allman gave him virtually no access to the people and records he would need to do the job, but he will do better by his successor. Stumbaugh said he will submit his budget as required by law, but it will be only a working document for Williams and the seven new members of the eight-member council who will be responsible for running the city in 2007.

Williams confirmed Friday morning that Stumbaugh has given him access to everything he needs to begin setting up his administration.