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Who wants to be Conway's next mayor?

Posted: September 14, 2013 - 6:50pm

Conway Mayor Tab Townsell has stated recently he is not planning to run for mayor again. His fifth term is scheduled to end in 2016, but he has said if another opportunity presented itself he may exit before that date.

In a look toward the future, several names have been brought up as possible successors. Although the election still may be years off, the Conway rumor mill has started churning out possibilities.

One of those possibilities is Jack Bell, current city chief of staff. Bell served several years on city council and was recently promoted from assistant to the mayor to chief of staff.

While Bell has not expressly shown interest in the position to the Log Cabin, a move just a few offices down into the mayor’s office would not be a far leap. His extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the city and his participation in current projects could provide a smooth leadership transition.

Another possible successor with intimate knowledge of several facets of the city is Bart Castleberry.

Castleberry recently retired from his 33-year career in the Conway Fire Department where he served for 20 years as fire chief. Since then he has stepped into the role of director of permitting and code enforcement, which he has been carrying out since July 22.

With the changes and his new job, Castleberry said he has a lot on his plate. Concerning running for mayor, he said “if and when that opportunity presented itself, I would consider it at that time.”

County Judge Allen Dodson has been thrust into the leadership limelight since he was appointed Faulkner County Judge earlier this year when former judge Preston Scroggin was appointed to the position of director of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission. Soon after that transition, the Mayflower Oil Spill forced the county into disaster mode with Dodson at the helm.

Although Dodson will not be allowed to seek re-election as county judge when the term expires in 2014, he has not ruled out the possibility of staying in public service.

“It would be a privilege to serve as Mayor for the City of Conway,” he said in an email. “Naturally, though, a decision to run for the position would depend on the timing and circumstances.”

Former mayoral candidate Mark Elsinger is not a stranger to the campaign trail and has said he has already thought about running for mayor again when the opportunity arises.

In fact, in a message to a Log Cabin reporter, Elsinger said, “I can tell you that I will definitely be seeking that office.”

Elsinger served in the Conway Police Department for more than 30 years — including a time as interim Chief of Police — and ran against Townsell and a third candidate Randy Herrold in 2012. Townsell received 10,217 votes and Elsinger came in second with 7,736 votes.

Another name that has popped up in the “who will be the next mayor” murmurs is current City Councilman David Grimes.

Grimes has served on city council since being sworn in New Year’s Day in 2003. Being a native of Conway, Grimes has had several leadership roles throughout the city including time as president of the Kiwanis Club of Conway, former board president and campaign chair of the United Way of Faulkner County and CFO at American Management Corporation.

In regards to his future political aspirations, Grimes told the Log Cabin that “running for mayor is something I might be interested in exploring at some point in the future.”

Also currently serving on Conway City Council is Alderwoman Shelley Mehl, another possible future mayor. Mehl has not told the Log Cabin about an interest in running for mayor, but that does not mean others haven’t suggested she seek the position.

In addition to serving on city council since 2006, Mehl has been the associate vice president for advancement and director of development for Hendrix College, former executive director of United Way of Faulkner County and the University of Central Arkansas’ interim vice president for institutional advancement.

The city won’t know for sure who will fill the mayor’s position until the time comes for would-be candidates to qualify, but that has not stopped the rumors and discussion around town.

Meanwhile, voters can start thinking about who they feel could fit the job. Does the city need someone who is already involved in local government or does it need a fresh face with new ideas? Should the next mayor have an immediate plan for the city or take some time to perfect some of the plans already in motion?

Only time will tell who will step forward to run in that race.

(Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached by email at angela.spencer@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1212. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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swanman60
26
Points
swanman60 09/15/13 - 09:43 am
3
0
Need someone who cares

Maybe the new mayor will actually care and stop all the bull-crap corruption in the City departments.Start with the Sanitation Dept. That Prison Warden they running the place is out of control. Everyone she hire's is either a church member or friend of her's. Conway need's a Mayor who will investigate all the wrong doing that woman does. Maybe they should transfer her from the sanitation dept. to State prison this way she could treat the inmates the way she treats her employees.There's really not much of a difference.Don't do what she say's and boom you have no job and know one doe's anything about it she's always right.The crazy woman fired me over hearsay it wasn't even the truth but her and Jason Murphy just didn't care they didn't even want her my side.Jason act's like he's this great christen but he has everyone fooled.I just really hope who ever becomes the Mayor can look into this nonsense and please fix it. (Thank you MS)

NosyNanna
25
Points
NosyNanna 09/15/13 - 07:09 pm
1
1
Someone who cares

She has done a lot for the City of Conway and her budget and income has saved the city when Townsell and the others "lost" a couple million dollars. The problem in her department is her secretary and a couple other supervisors. They don't care about anyone or their circumstances. They need an opening and make one, without cause.

conway man
18
Points
conway man 09/16/13 - 07:46 pm
1
0
What did you say

What has she do for this City? Her budget comes from not allowing overtime for people who need it. Every other department in the City gets overtime.When ever a sanitation employee gets overtime she makes them leave early but doesn't hesitate to spend money on foolish things like flowers in a dump.I really don't know much about her secretary because you never hear anything about her.As for the supervisors your right some of them need to go.I see supervisors and managers together all the time doing nothing at all.I will not name names but anyone who works there or ever worked there will know who they are.They are JM,SN,JW two worthless supervisors and one worthless manager.These three are first that need to go.I just think you need clean house out there.

duckworth67
19
Points
duckworth67 09/19/13 - 09:11 pm
1
0
JUST LISTEN TO ME!

Listen I don't know what people's problem's are with the Sanitation Department but I had worked there for four and a half years and then I quit my job and decided to go work for someone else. But let me tell you when it didn't work out the Sanitation Directer welcomed me back with open arms. I think all you people talking trash really don't know what the heck your talking about. And yes She and Jason can be a little hard to work for but there both very fare.I know I dealt with both of them and I was treated very fare.So maybe you should stop listing to crap and get your facts before you start talking smack.Or maybe you should come spend the day out there and see for yourself.Maybe you should focus on the fact that you have a job that no one has ever been laid off in troubled times. So I think all you trash talkers should find another hobby.Hay I hear that major tabloids pay for crap send them some of your lies and get paid to lie. Thank you for listing

ucantbserious
30550
Points
ucantbserious 09/23/13 - 11:58 am
2
0
Pun intended?

Did you purposefully use the phrase "talking trash" in a discussion about the sanitation department?

conwayville
557
Points
conwayville 09/16/13 - 09:30 pm
1
0
Agreed

START with the sanitation department. As someone who knows just a tiny bit of what goes on out there, I know a very small bit of the corruption that goes on. It is not the secretary or anyone else's fault but the director, the person who makes the decisions. Family vacations on our tax money. Small town politics if you will. Typical of people who work in higher positions. They can (and will) use taxpayer money as they please-and they think nothing can be done about it since they are the ones who make the decisions. Hiring personal friends and/or people who "need a job" as opposed to someone who is actually qualified is NOT the way to make a department function properly. How about the county using a vehicle that was paid for by the CITY? Of course it was wrecked/totalled and the city's taxpayers foot the bill-the towing bill and all. Most of us don't have half of a clue what actually goes on behind those curtains. I don't know even 1/4...but what I do know is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

fatfellar
54
Points
fatfellar 09/16/13 - 04:59 am
4
0
I'm sure whoever it is will

I'm sure whoever it is will have extensive knowledge of the inner workings of conway's inner circle

macattack
863
Points
macattack 09/16/13 - 01:02 pm
3
0
2 things I would hope for:

A new traffic engineer that actually lives in this city, that cares about traffic in this city, and someone whose only purpose is to improve traffic and not to draw a check. I am tired of waiting on invisible cars at 6 in the AM (Dave Ward Drive), stoplights that are geared for 8AM traffic all day long (and also on weekends), stoplights that are 50 yds apart and are asynchronous, etc. Conway has the worst reputation for traffic and has not been addressed by the current administration.
A mayoral candidate besides David Grimes. 2 things; His neighborhood just got a new asphalt coating in Pippinpost. How's your neighborhood? The other issue I have is I tried to redraw my property lines between the 2 lots I live on. The original plat was poorly thought out and in order to put a driveway to my house it had to cross the other lot. Sounds simple, just needing to move a property line. I live in the second house on a quiet short cul-de-sac and the city told me I had to put a sidewalk on my property. The nearest sidewalk was 0.3 miles in one direction (Even the nearby school had no sidewalk) and 0.25 miles in the other. The city planning commission had other plans. If I didn't put the sidewalk in I would have to pay $2000-3000.00 to the city as a penalty. So my wife and I went to the city council to create a variance or change the "rule". I discussed this with the mayor and most of the city council before so they could take a look at what their zoning ordinance was creating, essentially an unfair tax that would pad the city coffers. Andy Hawkins and David Grimes drove by my place. They all understood the problem except for Grimes and one other councilman. They stated "We like sidewalks". Tab and the other council members changed their ordinance for what it was intended, new subdivisions when platted should have sidewalks and that fee was voided when moving property lines between 2 adjacent lots. Not only does David Grimes have new asphalt in his subdivision but you might note that his subdivision has no sidewalks. What will happen if he happens to be elected mayor? All I know is he promoted a very unfair penalty and was very unreasonable in trying to correct the poorly worded ordinance. I also know his neighborhood seems to be getting preferential treatment. What is next?

rounderbush69
35
Points
rounderbush69 09/16/13 - 07:26 pm
2
0
AMEN BROTHER

I agree with every thing you say. I think that if you do not live in the City you should not take a City vehicle that taxpayers pay for home with you DRIVE YOUR OWN CAR. I think to run any department including Mayor you should live in the City this way you will know whats going on in your City.

fatfellar
54
Points
fatfellar 09/16/13 - 07:43 pm
2
0
I think being a conway

I think being a conway resident is part of the pre requisites of running for mayor pretty sure that's what Elsinger was in a mess about last time around

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