By JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer
Twenty candidates for public office spoke Monday evening during a forum that was part of the monthly AARP potluck in Cabot. Every one followed the moderator’s instructions to tell why they should be elected instead of why their opponents shouldn’t be.
Included in that number were all three independent candidates for Cabot mayor—former Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh, Alderman Eddie Cook and Bill Cypert, secretary of the commission that runs Cabot WaterWorks.
Current Mayor Eddie Joe Williams, who is running as a Republican for state Senate in Dist. 28, also spoke as did his Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Lenville Evans from Lonoke.
The group also heard from Lonoke County Judge Charlie Troutman, the Democratic in-cumbent and his Republican opponent Doug Erwin; Jerry Adams, the Democratic incumbent for tax assessor and his Republican opponent Jack McNally; Deborah Ogelsby, the Democratic incumbent for circuit clerk and her Republican opponent Denise Brown; Tim Blair, the Democrat running for county prosecutor and Chuck Graham, the Republican; the independent candidates for Cabot clerk-treasurer, Norma Naquin and Tammy Yocum, and several candidates for Cabot City Council.
The candidates for sheriff – Jim Roberson, the Republican incumbent and former Sheriff Charlie Martin, the Democrat – did not attend the forum.
All three candidates for Cab-ot mayor are counting on their experience in city government to help them win.
Stumbaugh says he’s a proven leader. Cook points to his experience with the city’s budget as chairman of the council’s budget committee, and Cypert says the city should be run like a business.
Why they were all there was clear when moderator Billie Dougherty asked for a show of hands of voters in the audience. Almost every hand went up.
“I’m asking you to trust me,” Mayor Williams told the AARP members. “If you vote for me and I’m elected, I promise I’ll still be Eddie Joe.”
Former District 15 Rep. Evans said he will look out for schools and try to curb spending on prisons.
County Judge Troutman spoke about improvements in the traffic flow around Cabot, two new health clinics in the county in six years, the $6 million jail that is under construction and expanding the available space for county offices with the county annex.
“Those things don’t happen unless you work together,” Troutman said.
Erwin, Troutman’s opponent, had a prior engagement and couldn’t stay for the forum; however, he did introduce himself before he left.
Both candidates for county prosecutor have served in the past as deputy prosecutors.
“I have the experience in the courtroom to handle this job,” Blair said.
He said the focus of the job should be protecting people and restoring property, not just punishing law breakers.
Graham, who was a police officer for many years before he went to law school, said law enforcement is what he knows the most about.
“I know how to be a cop and a prosecutor and how to put people in jail,” he said.
Adams, the incumbent running for county assessor, said the job he has held since 1995 is one of the most difficult in the courthouse.
“We’ve tried to run the office efficiently and do the best job we could,” Adams said.
McNally, Adam’s opponent, said his background is wide and diverse and he is qualified for the assessor’s job.
“I want to work for you,” McNally said.
Ogelsby said she has proven herself as circuit clerk and should be re-elected. Brown, office manager for the county prosecutor, also said her experience will make her a good circuit clerk.
Yocum, Cabot’s deputy city treasurer and office manager for Clerk-Treasurer Marva Verkler, who is not seeking another term, said she’s in the office every day and has the experience needed to be clerk-treasurer.
Naquin, office manager at Cabot Public Works, said her experience with the city, in business and banking, makes her the right choice for clerk-treasurer.
“I promise to be a very good watchdog for your money,” Naquin said.
These candidates for Cabot City Council also attended the forum: Alderman Patrick Hutton, Richard Cannon, Shelley Tounzen and Kevin Davis. Alderman Ed Long could not attend, but his wife Norma asked AARP members for their support.