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Crossett Area Chamber Of Commerce Announces 6 Part Series Of Meet The Candidates

The Crossett Area Chamber of Commerce is happy to announce our Six Part Series of “Candiate Conversations”-which begins today and ends on Friday, August 7. We will be posting the questions and answers of two questions per day.

At the “Meet The Candidates” Mayoral Forum, there were eighteen (18) questions available for the draw, with six (6) of these questions being drawn for that night due to time constraints.

Our purpose for the “Candidate Conversations” is to allow the five Mayoral Candidates to answer the remainder of the questions and allow the public to hear hear their answers.

The first question for today is:

If elected Mayor, what would be your top priorities during your first 90 days in office and how would you use your time and talent to achieve these goals?

Dale Martinie:

• My first 90 day prerequisite would be to restore trust to the citizens of Crossett. We will restore the pride and trust back into our town by doing what we say we are going to do. One issue is to cosmetically enhance our properties through-out the city and clean our town up. The council, now, has begun the process push and we will make sure we continue to make those needed improvements.
• We must go out and recruit new business. This is crucial for the growth of Crossett and there must be a plan. We will work with Economic Development and reach out to corporations and business owners to tell our Crossett story. We have more to offer now than at anytime in the last 60 years. We have a sustainable and renewable timber basin that is unmatched and not being stressed by fiber purchasers. We have a labor force skill set in Crossett full of technical and manufacturing experience. This would be very enticing for those manufacturing sites if they knew about it. We simply have to reach out and make sure they know our story.
• I will work closely and tirelessly with the department heads to streamline our operations and make efficiency changes where we can. There is no doubt that every department has employees that wish we were doing things differently. Listening and empowering them is a key factor in successful teamwork and needed improvements.
• Lastly, I will make certain that we put a preventative maintenance program in place that will allow our employees to be able to count on our equipment. Too often, we are having to compensate. Our city employees and citizens should be able to depend on the equipment we are using. When we have two garbage trucks down at the same time on numerous occasions, something needs to be done differently. Running to failure is not cost effective and creates more problems and cost when we throw money at failure.

Sarah Hollimon:

I am finding a common question along any (not so) campaign trail is “What will you do in your first so and so days?”. Not a person who thinks in timelines, this question has stumped me on two occasions now. And now it is time to dig into it. After settling into prayer about it, here is what I envision for the first 90 days should we get the vote:

*Form my advisory board to guide me through the crucial decisions a mayor faces in the business side of leading a town.
*Familiarize this board and myself with the budget and find our money drains.
*Meet with the Economic Development Foundation, its board and our city council to move toward resolving its contract.
*Hold a town hall meeting in each ward to hear from citizens what they want to see for Crossett both attractions AND repairs.
*Start “Come to Crossett” ad campaign on YouTube.
*Meet with Destination:Ashley and start tourism work.
*and BOOST MORALE through a series of community work days.

David Newberry:

My top priority is to get to know the employees of the City. I would spend some time with each one and ask the main question, which is “what can I do to help you in your job?” During my conversation I want to know their dreams and aspirations. Where do they want to be in 10 years, 20 years, etc. My skill is to listen to people so that I can find the right way to encourage them in their work. If it takes riding the garbage pickup one morning, riding with a Police Officer one afternoon or night, visiting with the Firefighters at the station or meeting with an employee in their office or mine, that is what I will do. A leader cannot properly motivate and encourage people they do not know, so my top priority will be to know the employees as best I can.

Along with that priority I want to know what the people of the city and what they want the Mayor to accomplish. It would be my goal to have a Town Hall meeting each week allowing the residents to come and share, gripe, complain, or whatever they need to get things off their chest. For the Mayor to be effective in leading the city he/she needs to know the people, and what better way that to listen to them speak from their hearts.

My second priority will entail learning the operations of the city government. I will talk with each of the Commissions and their leaders, the Department Heads, the Police and Fire Chiefs, and anyone else in leadership roles. It will be my mindset to find out how they currently operate their area of service and ask pertinent questions to find out if anything they do can be done better. If so, lets get some movement started to make life better for the employees and the residents.

My day usually starts around 4:00 a.m. each morning. It would be very easy for me to be in the Office by 5:00 a.m. and get any necessary paperwork and correspondence out of the way so that I can focus on the workings of the City during the regular working day. During that time, I would not entertain anyone in my office, but use it to handle the paperwork that unfortunately has not disappeared even with the advent of computers. Each evening would end for me, probably at my home, by answering any previously unanswered emails since everyone deserves an answer if they take the time to correspond with you.

As I have shared many times before, my skill is in listening to the needs of people. When you listen long enough to someone they will eventually open up and share their real hurt or pain. It just takes time, and I will make the time.

Kevin Cosby:

It’s important to review and assess the present operations of each department and meet with each department head to implement changes where needed to ensure streamlined operations with increased efficiencies. We must make sure that every commission and board has active and responsible participation from the members. If we need to add additional members to the committees that are needing more involved persons, we will incorporate active members from each respective ethnicity in our community. The Black, Latino, and Asian community members all have a say and should be represented.

It is important that we enlist a team of professionals and business owners to develop a business retention, expansion, and development team to look at more ways to Market and offer additional services and incentives while working with our Economic Development partners. We will have met with State and Federal organizations to enlist more programs for job creation, met with the Schools to address needs. Developed a mentorship program for our youth and our children made up of professionals from our community but work with nationally-recognized professionals too. Professionals like gold medalist Troy Burleson, who is a Martial Arts Hall of Fame member and International Champion. A leading fire arms and combat instructor who wants to help develop better training programs for our Police and First Responders as well as our local Churches and help build mentorship programs for our youth. We will have met with our local sports leaders to develop a better course of action for our Sports Complex and incorporate a better mix of willing participants to hold more tournaments. Host the First Home Run Derby at Tex Moore.

We will participate in a Nationwide Cycling event in September. The Great Cycle Challenge USA. Riding to fight Kid’s Cancer and to introduce our partnership with professional trail building group Rogue Trails. An Arkansas company headed by an ecologist who builds world-class trails that people come from all over to ride. This valuable partnership will allow us to train our children and our community members and offer better cycling areas while encouraging better wellness and participation in The Great outdoors. Rogue Trails writes grants, trains youth, helps develop cycling programs for schools and puts any area they work on , in the mix and on the map. I’m proud to say they are willing to partner with Crossett for this awesome opportunity. (I’d bet we have a bike shop here soon.) We can hold a bigger Car show and Midnight cruise by working with Classy Cruisers and other car clubs in outlying areas. Many great things lay in store for Crossett and I’ll start working immediately, day one. I’ll close the windows over the old municipal building and start applying anti mold treatments as soon as I get the keys. I won’t just ride by daily and ignore issues. I’ll be active and proactive as your Mayor.

Crystal Marshall:
1. As mayor I am currently focused and dedicated to the following tasks and will continue pursuing them intensely if elected:
a. Broadband internet grant: Not only will I push to complete the grant as soon as possible(we are very close), but deployment of this first phase of the project is required to be complete by the end of the year. This is great news as we will be able to make a real impact to Crossett right off the bat! We will be extremely focused on getting the fiber optic cable installed and up and running for the pieces of Crossett involved in phase one. We are extremely excited about this prospect and I am committed to doing everything in my power to help Crossett obtain fast reliable stable internet as soon as humanly possible.This will make such a huge positive impact on all layers of our community from education, to health care, to our businesses and industry, to our citizens ability to stay connected. It’s vital for our economy to be a lifeblood to do all we can to pursue every available avenue to obtain stable, reliable internet for Crossett.
b. Cleaning up Crossett: We have several initiatives going now and plan to vigorously continue them. From the sign initiative replacing worn out signs throughout town and painting the stop sign poles, to continuing our improvements at Clemmie Wimberly Field on 6th Avenue, to making more progress on many needed municipal parking lot repairs, to finishing the cleanup of the former Zoo property. I’m also committed to applying for several grants to help clean up our municipal properties. From our Municipal building, to our auditorium, to our youth center and more. I’ve already submitted several grants myself since taking office a short three months ago and will leave no stone unturned to pursue every grant available. At the same time our workforce will continue working hard and focusing on increasing efficiencies to enable us to clean up more properties through the required legal process. We’ve made good headway cleaning up nearly 25 properties last year, and we’re excited to continue.
c. Ambassador program in the schools : I’ve developed a new program in conjunction with the Crossett School District to get more children involved with local government. We are working together to kick off this program as soon as possible. The concept is to have some students from 4-12 grade formally appointed as an Ambassador to their age group and be the liaison and Ambassador to bring forth their peers’ questions, concerns, and ideas to city government. This in turn helps the government officials make better decisions ensuring they are considering the youth who will be impacted by the decisions longer than any of us as they have more time left on this earth. It also helps us educate our children on how city governments work. It’s so important that we teach these leaders of tomorrow how city governments work, and what the role is of mayor, council, city attorney, clerk treasurer, etc. We want to inspire them to aspire to these positions and to grow deeper roots in our community. An excellent point was brought to our attention about our literacy rates in Crossett at the Mayoral forum. As part of the Ambassador program, I plan to work with the community and the school to develop a literacy enhancement element as part of this Ambassador program.
For more information on my vision or our team’s accomplishments as your mayor, and previously as a two term councilperson, please check out CrystalMarshallForMayor on Facebook or call me any time at 870-415-0014. I’d love to hear from you and hear your ideas, questions and concerns! #TogetherWeCan

Second question for today:

What will you do to improve the racial make-up of our city and ensure that our boards and commissions properly reflect the diversity of our community?

Dale Martinie:

It is extremely important to have diverse representation of our community in every facet of city government or of the city employees. When looking for talented people, it is imperative that we utilize people that represent the needed skill-set. If that job description is one that will represent the citizens, that person must be approachable and have the ability to listen and learn. If the position is that of a mechanic, they need that obvious mechanical training and skill set. The last two people, coincidentally, that were appointed to our City Council have been minorities. However, they were not appointed for that reason. They were appointed because they were the best people for the position and would be an outstanding voice for the citizens. I would like to think we can get past the ethnicity or gender of a person and be able to judge people on their virtues and talent. There are Federal guidelines that track diversity in hiring practices and employment status. If any employer were to get out of compliance with those expectations, it would surely raise a flag. My friends are friends because of their personality and who they are. It has nothing to do with skin color. I know that the citizens of Crossett feel the same way and is exactly why we love our town as much as we do.

Sarah Hollimon:

I see people in terms of their level of passion for our community and the gifts that they bring to the table. And that vision has been a driving force behind the groups of volunteers I have gathered as well as the team of lifeguards I have hired as well as the Auditorium board I selected as well as the army of artists I have connected for our Paint the Town event.

I have on several occasions over the past year enlisted the help of volunteers for events and programs based on their skill level and desire to uplift Crossett. This has incidentally created a volunteer pool rife with differences. But, when we start to separate people according to their differences we lose something…connection.

Instead of pointing out differences and enlisting help based on those differences, I have found success looking past them and into what makes us the same: a love of our home and a desire to improve it. Crossett is made up of unique people. To minimize that uniqueness into a criterion for board selection, hiring, committee membership, etc. is to cheapen that uniqueness.

So to answer the question simply: we will improve racial diversity to reflect our community better when we stop trying so hard to do that and focus on what makes us the same. That’s equality! That’s true integration.

David Newberry:

This is actually a very easy question for me. The Mayor is responsible for recommending to the City Council the various members to serve on the Commissions and Boards. One thing I have done over the years is to keep a running file of the people I meet in every day life. This may sound strange to some, but when I meet someone who has a particular skill set and is open to helping me, I keep their name and contact info in a file. For example, I have a friend who owned a construction company for over 40 years before retiring last year. Whenever I have an issue at a building Sandy and I own in Cypress, TX, I call my friend and ask his opinion on how to get the needed help. He is always willing to help me. I have so many friends with knowledge and skills in a vast and wide spectrum of life. Throughout the years I have called on these men and women to get answers in order to help me or other friends of mine. And this is what I will do as Mayor. In our fair city we have so many talented and smart people that represent every age group, ethnic group and occupational group. As I get to know more and more of them, I will never hesitate to call any of them and ask their opinion. When you listen to smart and talented people, you learn things you did not know before.

How does this apply to the City of Crossett? As I work my way around the city and meet various people, I gather information from them about their life, dreams and goals. I can also find out their interest in serving the community of Crossett. When I meet someone who has a real talent and skill set that would fit well with serving, let’s say on the Port Authority Commission, the Library Board, the Recreation Committee, etc., then I enter their name in my file under the respective area I believe they would be great in serving. Then, when it came time to replace someone, I already have a list ready to go.

The Diversity happens when a leader is forward-thinking and enters people on that potential service list that is not one of the “good old boys” as some would say. I’ve been known in the past for recommending younger and older people for positions that some would say, “what is he thinking?” But I can promise you those people turned out to be one of the best workers and servants. Diversity happens when a leader knows that a Commission or Board is unbalanced in representing the residents of Crossett. Unbalance happens when the same people keep getting appointed over and over to the same Committees to the exception of others who could serve just as well, if not better. All a leader has to do is to replace some of those people with other people on his/her “potential servant list” and ask them to serve.

Back in the 90’s I had a great friendship with Evandrew Washington, the former Pastor of First Baptist Church on Florida Street. Evandrew (now passed away) did not live in Crossett, but if he did, and I was Mayor, I would appoint him to the Planning Commission with no questions asked. Why? Because Evandrew was smart, outgoing, funny, loved people, loved me (and I loved him) and deeply cared for his congregation. He had a mind that looked out into the future. We talked numerous times about how he was praying and working for his Church to double and triple in size as he sought to reach out to the people. Evandrew would have been at the top of my list, and the others on the Planning Commission would have been spellbound by his presence at their meetings. If you are reading this and you knew Evandrew Washington, I know you will agree with me.

Kevin Cosby:

Mr. Cosby included both questions the first response. Please see above post concerning his answer to this question.

Crystal Marshall:

The constitution that I swear to uphold as Mayor applies to all people, regardless of race, gender, religion and I am committed to serving every single citizen to the best of my ability. Being committed to being a Mayor of ALL of Crossett, I’m dedicated to forming relationships and spending time with citizens across our entire town. By proactively reaching out and helping with all areas, relationships of trust are built to enable us to truly work together as a team. This is why as mayor and previously as a councilperson for 3.5 years I ensured I spent my time working on projects all across our town from the city park disc golf course and opening of bathrooms, to the city pool rehabilitation and reopening, to helping our Veterans be honored in a new Crossett tradition, to the several improvements at the EC Crossett Youth Center including the playground addition, new pavilion with a built in bbq grill, to the roof repairs due to structural issues. I’ve also helped our Juneteenth committee with event planning around this important holiday and implement our very first Juneteenth parade in Crossett(and new Crossett tradition) and serve as ex-officio on our Youth Center Board allowing me opportunities to experience our diverse leadership to ensure they are on the forefront of my brain as new positions become open. Through action and hard work, we truly demonstrate the will to serve ALL the people of our great city and foster a spirit of trust with the community.
Diversity is extremely important because to best represent a town you need representation from all the community. This has been a mission of mine not only on city boards but in volunteer organizations I’m involved in as well. I’ve made a difference by reaching out to different ages, genders, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds to help ensure we maintain a high level of diversity. In our volunteer group, I nominated our first member that brought diversity into the group for the first time. Our group continues to grow in diversity and we couldn’t be more proud. As far as government boards, I actively recruit a diverse group to consider joining boards. I am proud of the great strides our city council has made with adding diversity across races, genders, and ages and am committed to continuing. We are very fortunate to have a huge diverse talent pool in Crossett. And in an effort to unify our community to bring us together in a time of pain from racial injustice in our society, I worked with our police chief and police department and several preachers and community leaders to host an event for all the people of crossett to come together in fellowship and healing. By coming together as a team and unifying our community we will only grow stronger! #TogetherWeCan

For more information on what I have accomplished as your mayor, and previously as a two term councilperson, please check out CrystalMarshallForMayor on Facebook or call me any time at 870-415-0014. I’d love to hear from you and hear your ideas, questions and concerns!

Please look for the next part of “Candidate Conversation” on Monday!

Wesley is the owner of South Ark Weather, LLC which owns and operates searkweather.com You may contact him at wesley@searkweather.com

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