Friday, October 22, 2010

TOP STORY > >Mayoral candidates cite stance on issues

Joan McCoy • Leader staff writer

On Tuesday, Nov. 2, Cabot will elect a new mayor from among three candidates.

Alderman Eddie Cook, 41, owns Cook Screen Printing in Cabot. He has lived in Cabot for 19 years. Cook said he moved away for a year because of family circumstances, but that his heart has always been in Cabot.

Bill Cypert, 68, has lived in Cabot  for 35 years. He has been the secretary and spokesman for the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission for the last five years. He also owns and operates three small businesses. He and his wife, Betty, have been married 45 years. They have two children, Tammy Cypert and Ste-ven Cypert, who were both educated in Cabot public schools.

Former Cabot Mayor Mickey D. “Stubby” Stum-baugh, 43, moved to Cabot when he was 5 years old. He graduated from Cabot High School in 1986. He is the municipal marketing manager for IESI, an international solid-waste company. He is single and he has no children.

Why do you want to be mayor? 

Cook: I have served this community on many different levels from local civic organizations to being an elected official. I believe this city has great potential and needs the leadership and forward thinking of an individual that has the desire to see this city grow and prosper.

I am prepared, qualified and ready to serve and represent this great city.

Cypert:  To serve the city and its citizens, help the city to transition from a small to a larger growing city, resolve outstanding problems and issues, and prevent them in the future, allowing for smooth and orderly growth.

Stumbaugh: I want to be mayor for the exact same reason I wanted to be mayor before. I love Cabot and all of her people. Jerry and Dick Cole and many of the good people of Cabot helped raise me after my father passed away in 1976. I was one of seven children and went to work next door to city hall at Cole’s service station and said I wanted to be mayor.  The 1986 Cabot High School yearbook had me “Most Likely to Be Elected Mayor of Cabot.”
I want to work with all of our city/community leaders to make sure Cabot is a great place to raise our children, send our children to a great school, get from one side of town to the other without it taking half a day, feel safe and protected by a great fire department and police department and be a great place to work and not just live.

What experiences qualify you for the job?

Cook: I have served on the Cabot City Council for the past six years. I am the chairman of the budget and personnel committee. I serve on the public works committee. I am the council liaison to the Parks and Recreation Commission. I serve as the budget adviser of the Advertising and Promotion Commission. I am also a 10-year local businessman and a member of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce. I am ready to serve this city as mayor.

Cypert: Extensive experience in private-sector executive management and strategic planning and extensive knowledge and experience in Cabot city operations, functions and services.

Stumbaugh: All of my work experiences and work with civic organizations qualify me to be mayor. Being a former Cabot firefighter, Little Rock police officer, the former mayor of Cabot and my current job. I have been a member in the past of the Cabot Jaycees/Junior Chamber of Commerce, Cabot Lions Club and Cabot Rotary Club. I held many offices in the Jaycees from local president, state vice president, the youngest-ever elected state president and national vice president. As national vice president, I traveled to 40 states and Japan providing leadership training through community involvement. I’m currently the president-elect of the Kiwanis Club of Cabot, where we are serving the children of the world, starting in our own community.

What are the most pressing problems facing Cabot and how will you work to solve them?

Cook: A) Economic development is necessary for the city of Cabot. We need to establish a city-sponsored economic-development position to help bring in outside businesses and restaurants. They would also assist in helping fill our empty buildings. We also need to expand our thinking to a regional level. With our strong schools, we will draw population and tax dollars from our surrounding cities.

B) Parks and recreation needs assistance in growth and upkeep. As our city grows, our parks need to grow also. The city needs a grant writer to assist all commissions and departments to bring in additional funding. By utilizing grant money, we can stretch tax-payer money and increase projects.

C) Traffic has always been an issue with our city. We will continue with the north-interchange project. Federal funding has already been appropriated for the engineering. Our city needs to be financially prepared when the project is ready for construction. We need to plan for growth by not only expanding some of our secondary roads, but looking to add new roads both inside and outside of our city.

I have been working with Home Depot to secure the easements in front of their building, which will one day become an access road for Hwy. 67/167 on the east side.

Cypert: The most pressing problems facing the city of Cabot are transitioning the city and infrastructure for growth, eliminating outstanding problems and issues and planning for the next 25 to 50 years and beyond for orderly growth and infrastructure. This includes strategic plans for transportation, street improvements and sidewalks, business development, drainage, land use, parks and recreation, and fire and police protective services. 

This can be accomplished by establishing strategic plans, including funding sources in each area with broad consensus and support with all parties and a system of monitoring for compliance and accomplishment.

An associated problem is positive recognition for the city of Cabot throughout the state, nationally and even internationally. We need to develop an aggressive economic-development model by working in concert with the chamber of commerce and the private and public sectors that generate measurable results with the city of Cabot rather than any individuals or groups getting the credit.

Stumbaugh: Traffic, police and fire protection, storm-water drainage, sidewalks and economic development are some of many issues that I’ve listened to the citizens of Cabot talk to us about since campaigning this time. We will continue to work with Metroplan and the State Highway Department on our never-ending traffic issues. We will continue to work on and update our city’s traffic plan that we completed in the past. While we funded the north railroad overpass during my last term as mayor and the other projects that have been done since leaving, they have not helped the traffic issues from Rockwood Drive to Hwy. 321/Mount Carmel Road. There were studies completed in the past on sidewalks and drainage, and we will move forward on them and attempt to obtain grants as we did in the past to complete these projects. We must make sure that our police and fire departments are staffed and equipped with everything needed to protect all of the people of Cabot. I will work with our chamber of commerce to promote Cabot in every way to bring good business and industry that will give our citizens the quality of life that we deserve.

The current administration has plans for another fire station in the Hwy. 5 area. If elected mayor, would you continue to work toward that goal?

Cook: As a member of the Cabot City Council, I have worked with our current mayor on the plans for the Hwy. 5 fire station. It is necessary for the station to continue to progress to keep the ISO ratings for that area low and not affect insurance rates for our citizens. Funding has been established in our current budgets to add this station with no additional costs on our citizens. This is a perfect example of planning for our city so that it does not put an added financial burden on the citizens.

Cypert: Yes, as soon as possible, with a continuing goal of maintaining the best ISO rating possible and maintaining state-of-the-art equipment, personnel and services with a strong team concept.

Stumbaugh: I will continue to work on putting a fire station in the Hwy. 5 area and anywhere else we need to put them to protect the citizens of Cabot, and I will work to maintain the best ISO rating we can to relieve any higher financial burdens on insurance-policy holders.

The current administration wants to set aside enough money in savings to match federal money for a north interchange. Do you support that project? If not, do you have other plans to solve Cabot’s traffic problems?

Cook: Federal funding for the engineering on the north interchange has been appropriated and will start soon. 

When the federal funding becomes available, we must be ready for our part. We have been putting money aside for this and other projects for several years. We can utilize our strong relationships with local and state officials to help with funding for these projects also. Road expansion and new road construction are necessary for Cabot’s growth. We will continue to plan for Cabot’s future.

Cypert: Yes, this is a major connector to the new four-lane railroad overpass, which can ultimately be an integral part of a looping infrastructure to funnel traffic around the city from all directions and eliminating bottlenecks and traffic jams internally.

Stumbaugh: I do support the north interchange as long as it fits in our long-term traffic plan, and a study shows it will help with our traffic issues as I have mentioned. I will support it if the city leaders, elected and non-elected, support this or any project that is good for the health, safety and welfare of our citizens.

The current administration has built a working relationship with the Lonoke County judge, state officials and national officials. If elected, will you continue to foster those relationships?

Cook: As a current member of the city council, I have had the pleasure of working with these different entities. My current working relationships with them will continue and strengthen. I look forward to the teamwork and progress in store for the city.

Cypert: Absolutely, working together, locally, regionally, state and federal is paramount to success. I personally know the director of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, two of the commissioners, plus acquaintance with a third. I am committed to continue building excellent working relationships with all officials all the way to Washington, both elected and non-elected.

Stumbaugh: I will foster a good working relationship with all government officials, whomever the people elect during this election.

What are Cabot’s strengths?

Cook: Our schools are one of our biggest strengths and continue to draw people to Cabot. One of Cabot’s hidden strengths is our police and fire departments. Low crime and the low number of structural fires are not just something that happens. Our uniformed personnel are out in the community and working with citizens. We must keep them equipped and foster teamwork.

Cypert: Cabot’s strengths are, but not limited to, one of the best school districts in the country, a wholesome family-oriented community, a strong base of churches, a community spirit of nonprofit organizations and individuals helping those in need, close proximity to a major metro and surrounding areas with air, river and rail transportation facilities, close higher-education facilities, water and wastewater capacity, and varied proximity to lakes and recreation and diverse opportunities to include the BMX Park and the Cabot Community Theatre.

Stumbaugh: Cabot strengths are by far the good people that live here. We also have great schools and churches that attract a lot people here today. Our parks and recreation department with all of the youth-sports programs and the Veterans Community Center are also things that attract people to Cabot.

Do you think the commissions running advertising and promotion, parks and Cabot WaterWorks are doing a good job? Are you in favor of keeping them?

Cook: I have always been in favor of the commissions. Individuals who are passionate and qualified to serve on these commissions can focus on the issues that will best serve the community. All commissions have a council liaison or representative who keeps the city council informed of all activities. Teamwork is the key to progress.

Cypert: I firmly believe that the statutory commissions should be retained as this helps keep the politics out of them and a separation of funds. I will fully support and encourage the advertising and promotion commission to focus on opportunities that will bring in additional revenue to both the city and the private sector from a broader base; support, encourage and help secure funding for the parks and recreation commission to significantly raise the bar on a broad base of diverse activities; significantly expand the community center and develop the North Lonoke County Regional Park. I will encourage the water and wastewater commission to continue to run water and wastewater like a business and insure services are strategically planned for and obtainable through at least the 22nd Century.

Stumbaugh: I have worked with all of the commissions that Cabot has, and I will continue to work with them in the future as mayor.

Do you plan any major changes in the city clerk/treasurer’s office, such as the changes eight years ago when many of the duties of the treasurer were given to a finance director? If so, why?

Cook: As chairman of the budget committee, I keep very informed of all budget issues. The city is currently using the services of a local certified public accountant to review our city books and make recommendations to help the city clerk/treasurer’s office. The new city clerk/treasurer will have the assistance of the CPA for any questions pertaining to responsibilities. This department is currently running effectively and efficiently and does not need any change.

Cypert: I do not plan any changes in the city clerk/treasurer’s office as currently structured and organized.

Stumbaugh: I will work with the city clerk/treasurer’s office in every way to streamline city government and make sure all Cabot’s citizens and the people doing business with the city are properly serviced.
What would you like to see done to make Cabot more appealing to potential residents and businesses?

Cook: This is actually a two-fold question. We must keep the appearance of our city at a higher standard. By presenting a positive appearance, our current citizens will follow the city’s example and this will entice new residents to move to our great city. We need to go and actively pursue new businesses to come to Cabot. My economic-development plan will address this issue of bringing new businesses and restaurants to Cabot and increasing our tax base.

Cypert: In the next several years, I would like to demonstrate to potential residents and businesses that Cabot has the market-trade area, infrastructure, demeanor, facilites and potential to attract new residents, retail storefronts, employers and industrial facilities.

Stumbaugh: We must continue to work on all of our strengths and keep them maintained. I always attempt to stay positive. However, our traffic issues continue to not shine a very bright light on our community, so we all must work together to safely, properly, efficiently and effectively eliminate these traffic issues.

How will you work with the LRAFB? What relationship do you now have with the base?

Cook: With a majority of the base personnel living in Cabot, it is necessary to foster a positive relationship. Keeping the lines of communication open and supporting all efforts of the base will assist in this. Attending and keeping involved in all aspects of the base will be a priority.

Cypert: I do not have any day-to-day relationship with the air base other than some interaction as secretary and spokesman for the Cabot Water and Wastewater Commission. I have extensive interaction with Jacksonville officials who are directly connected to and support the base. I will be committed to absolute support and excellent relations with the base and personnel, as the base is a significant portion of the economic support of Cabot.

Stumbaugh: I was a member of the of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council when I was mayor and I have so much respect for all of our servicemen and women. I supported and will support all of the events and missions of LRAFB.

What one thing do you want voters to know about you and think about when they are casting their ballots?
Cook: Experience. I have the necessary experience to continue to grow our city in the right direction. I am not making campaign promises. I will continue to move our city forward just as I have done for the past several years. 

Our city is strong financially and ready to take the next step. I will be available to the citizens and I am ready and want to be your mayor.

Cypert: I will run the city like a business with dignity, professionalism and ethics, maintain an open-door policy, and if the voters want the city to grow in the right direction with minimal problems and appropriate infrastructure, I am asking for their vote.

Stumbaugh: I have and will always be honest in everything I have been involved with. During my first term as mayor, we accomplished many things that several said we couldn’t get done from the Veterans Memorial Community Center, new animal shelter, city-wide sidewalk project, $30 million water project and a special census worth over $500,000. This special census has given the current administration opportunities that I didn’t have.

Because of our actions by doing the special census and purchasing the old Community Bank building, it caused us to have a very tight budget. Because of our foresight during my administration, as a result of the census, the city of Cabot has experienced increased revenues so we still left it better than we found it and left future funds increased coming to the city of Cabot.