Friday, October 12, 2012

TOP STORY >> Candidate guaranteed election

Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville City Council will get three new faces next year due to retirements, and one of those has already been decided.

Before the filing deadline in May, both Barbara Mashburn, 62, and Derek Evans filed for the Ward 3, Pos. 2 seat that was going to open up with the retirement of Linda Rinker.

But Evans pulled out of the race last week because he and his family are looking for a new home, still in Jacksonville, but possibly in a different ward. Even though aldermen are elected at large, the candidate must live in the ward that they represent.

The move gives the seat automatically to Mashburn. “I’m glad I don’t have to go through the rest of the campaign battle, but I was ready,” she said.

It also gives a sigh of relief to Mayor Gary Fletcher as Evans is his son-in-law and if he had won it might have caused issues in the family if the mayor and the son-in-law ended up on different sides of a decision. It may have also caused problems if the mayor pushed for something and it was approved by one vote.

Mashburn has been a Jacksonville resident for 34 years and is a member of the Westside Baptist Church.

“As a resident I love Jacksonville and want to see our city expand and grow, there has been a huge amount of progress, but there is still a lot left to do. We must continue this sense of pride and commitment to Jacksonville,” she said, as a reason for wanting to be on the city council.

Mashburn said she’s looking forward to her time on the council and will be pushing for better education. “I’m a firm believer in getting our own district and making our school safer.” She said that after education, the focus needs to be on economic development—“keeping our businesses, attracting new ones and growing.”

She started a neighborhood watch program in April of 2011 and serves as the president of the Warren Street Neighborhood Watch and works on the “National Night out Campaign.” The event promotes safety in our neighborhoods, she said.

For 15 years, she served in a leadership role at a Jacksonville manufacturer facility.

The other open seat battles are for the Ward 4, Pos. 2 seat held by retiring Bob Stroud. Battling for that seat are Mary Twitty and Freddie Booker.

Also open is the Ward 1, Pos. 2 seat formerly held by Marshall Smith who retired from the council last month and moved to Vilonia. Because his departure was so close to the election, his seat will remain vacant until the winning candidate, either Jim Moore or Rev. James E. Bolden III is elected in November. The mayor said the winner will be sworn in and start their duties immediately following the election, while other new aldermen won’t take office until January.

Even though she has a guaranteed seat on the council, Mashburn will still participate the senior center candidate forum at 10 a.m. Tuesday.