JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - One of the biggest races being watched in Region 8 is the Jonesboro mayoral race.
To help voters decide, Andy Shatley, Thomas Elwood, and Harold Copenhaver participated in “Candidate Conversations” Monday night at the Foundation of Arts Forum Theater.
The candidates were each asked to name three things they would like to achieve, and how they would pay for them during their four-year term.
“If you have built teamwork and transparency; trust comes with that. So, at the end of 4 years, I want to improve the relationship and the trust between the citizenry and city hall," Shatley said. "Those are my three campaign promises for the next year.”
Elwood said unity will be something he hopes to accomplish during his term.
“When you start talking about accomplishments and things you want to do, you kinda have to be realistic on what you can actually accomplish," Elwood said. "If I could restore the trust and the people would kinda calm down a bit and kinda come together a little bit then I would consider myself very successful if I can accomplish that one thing.”
Copenhaver said on top of contact and relationships, he would strive to make Jonesboro a safe community.
“I’ll like to see three goals for infrastructure and I would also like to see our long-term goal for 30 years. That’s what the predecessors did before us," Copenhaver said."Thirdly, safety. Safety is the key to this community and we can improve on the quality of life as long as we provide safety for individuals."
The moderators asked each candidate would enforce a mask mandate if it were left up to them.
All answered in the negative but gave different reasons as to why.
“No, absolutely not," said Elwood. "When you have a mandate like that somebody has to enforce it. So you’re are asking a law enforcement officer to go to a group of people and detain them and take them to a detention facility. There are people who work at the detention... You are spreading the virus. You are not accomplishing the goal you want.”
Copenhaver said he would not enforce a mandate but would instead educate and interpret the law.
“As mayor, I have to follow the law. If the governor feels there is a state mandate that is necessary, it is my job as mayor to interpret that to the community and its relevance. I have to think about our community. I have to think about individuals in our community. I have to think about their safety and well-being," Copenhaver said. "Would I impose one? No. Would I work with individuals on why it would be necessary? Absolutely.”
Shatley said we should not add another burden to the police department and it’s not their role to educate the community. However, he said, if the governor has set the mandate we have to follow it.
“No, because it’s arbitrary; there are too many exceptions. A lot of things I’ve heard is that a mask mandate is kinda like requiring a seat belt; it’s not. There are exceptions. So it puts our police or whoever is going to enforce the wearing of masks, it puts them in a very precarious position,” Shatley said.
When it came to special ideas, Copenhaver spoke about having an economic summit to plan for the future and the importance of connecting downtown to the rest of the city.
Shatley touched on creating a public health commission and the importance of keeping the city safe and clean to attract new residents.
Elwood continued his push on having lockers for the homeless and more green spaces.
All candidates believe the city has made progress with solutions for the homeless. However, they would like to see a variety of added solutions from a shelter, lockers, or even a warehouse for furnishing for those experiencing chronic homelessness.
While trying to earn votes tonight at through the event hosted by the Foundation of the Arts, they were asked if they would support The Forum.
They all agreed on the importance of the arts and its need in our community.
Copenhaver and Shatley spoke particularly about their experiences of being actors and singers on the stage in production and how it’s shaped their lives.
Elwood expressed the importance and history of the building and how it was always a leader in entertainment in the downtown area.
In the end, they closed out with these remarks on why they should be the next leader.
“It’s important to me what kind of city we leave behind. People matter. Words matter. We are all in this together,” Elwood said
“I’m ready. I’m qualified and I feel that this city needs stability as we move forward in these uncertain times,” Copenhaver said.
“I’m not looking for a title. I want the job because I believe in this town. I believe in our potential. We have great things in store for us.” Shatley said.
The Foundation of Arts plans to make the entire Candidate Conversations available to view Wednesday.