The three mayoral candidates, incumbent Mayor James Valley, Arnell Wills and Bruce Hudson were invited by the Mid Delta Pastor's Fellowship to speak before a group of concerned citizens Monday evening in the fellowship hall of the West Helena United Methodist Church.

 

The three mayoral candidates, incumbent Mayor James Valley, Arnell Wills and Bruce Hudson were invited by the Mid Delta Pastor's Fellowship to speak before a group of concerned citizens Monday evening in the fellowship hall of the West Helena United Methodist Church.
The candidates were asked to tell why they wanted to be mayor and what kind of services they could offer if elected.
Former state representative, U.S. Navy veteran and local business owner Arnell Willis, who was first on the agenda said he felt his speech Monday night was one of the most important he had made since beginning his campaign.
"I am running for mayor because I feel like the current administration is headed in the wrong direction," stated Willis.
If we keep on like we're going we can continue down that road of paying higher taxes, higher utility bills, or we can bring back transparency and open government to the people. I want to see confidence in the city government restored," said Willis.
“We not only need to make our community safer, we also need to work to improve our education system. We need to reactivate the various committees, which the current administration has abolished. Currently, there are no committees, just a one-man show, such as a dictatorship. We actually have no public involvement in city government.
“If something happens on your watch you need to be accountable for it and if we don't stop the current trend in city government we're headed for bankruptcy,” continued Willis.
"We have people in top leadership positions that are busy writing hot checks and not taking care of those who are reckless with their spending. This is a recipe for disaster. We need to streamline city government and you cannot do it with wasteful spending.
“At one time we were a proud city and I would like to help restore that pride in our city, I want to help create jobs and restore the Police and Fire departments to their full, force.
"You can't have industrial development if the system is crumbing,” added Willis.
Willis also addressed the crime problem and said that some form of crime has impacted most businesses. He mentioned the fact that most streets in town have numerous potholes that he would like to fix on rotation basis.
Incumbent mayor and local attorney Mayor James Valley took the podium and said he was neither scared nor afraid that the city was not going to be ok, because he felt like we were ok.
“When I was elected mayor I discovered that running the city was a whole new ball game and that the city was already deeply in debt. If you want lower taxes then the voters can have them lowered, the citizens voted the current taxation in.”
"I did not come here to be the bearer of bad news. I feel like the city is in good shape," said Valley.
“So far, we have fixed drainage problems on Springdale Road, Old Dominion and other areas and have torn down burned out and neglected properties. We have added additional police officers and firefighters.
“When I came into office the sanitation workers only received a thank you for the job they did not they have a retirement system. We do need a plan to repair streets and we need to cover open ditches, such as the one on Anderson Street and Quarles Lane.
“Unfortunately we do have a juvenile crime problem with the little bad boys who keep committing crimes going off to a juvenile detention facility and then being turned right back out and committing the same crimes, over and over.
Helena City Council member Bruce Hudson, who is yielding his seat on the council to run for mayor, said he starts every day by reading the auditors report.
"I could not believe what is going on my watch,” stated Hudson.
“We have literally allowed millions of dollars to be misappropriated and over $11 million in unaccountable funds. The city government is like a ship on its side. We have the highest taxes in the mid-south and nothing to show for it,” said Hudson.
“Over $2 million was supposed to be spent on repairing streets. However, that money was put in the general fund. There also is a shortfall of $326,000 in the firemen's fund,” Hudson continued. “The current administration has over $68,000 in unexplained hotel bills. The funds that are coming in to the city should be enough to take care of the city, if they were handled properly.”
Hudson said he felt the current mayor did every thing “cut rate” and no pride was taken in doing the job right, such as working on parks or razing houses and that nothing was done with pride."