R.L. Jones worked at Maverick Tube for 14 years following high school graduation. He served on the Blytheville city council for 16 years, was president of neighborhood watch and started Blytheville city ward meetings. He has been a member of the NAACP for 35 years, a member of Church of God in Christ for over 40 years, has pastored for 31 years, and is the current pastor of Bethlehem Temple.
Blytheville is like many, if not most, Delta communities. Our population and our tax base has declined over the years. On the other hand, Blytheville is unlike other Delta communities in that the citizens have not given up. We have put taxes in place to help supplement our police and fire departments, parks department, one to help with infrastructure, and a county tax to help attract new jobs. While our overall tax base has declined, the people of Blytheville have given the Mayor and city council funds that many other cities our size don't have to continue to operate.
There are a lot of reasons that I could point to as our reason for loss of population. Jobs, schools, and quality of life issues are the first things people point out. The challenge before Blytheville and Mississippi County is how to turn it around. Jobs should be our first priority. People must have a good job to support their families. Once a person has a good job they need a community that they enjoy living in. We also need a low crime rate, strong schools, and recreational opportunities for our families. I have always been a supporter of the public school system.
One thing I learned while serving 16 years on the council was that the crime rate is impacted by a lot of things. The unemployment rate has a large impact on the crime rate. I also know the crime rate in Blytheville follows the national statistics. When theft is up nationally, it is up here. I wanted it to be better so I have worked to pass taxes so that the city could hire more officers and pay our officers better so they won't leave Blytheville.
If I am elected, instead of me briefing my goals, I will state what the law requires. According to Arkansas Municipal Code 14-43-502, the city council shall possess all the legislative powers granted by the subtitle and other corporate powers of the city, not prohibited in it or by some ordinance of the city council, made in pursuance of the provisions of this subtitle and conferred on some officer of the city. The council shall have the management and control of finances, and of all the real and personal property belonging to the corporation. The council shall provide the times and places of holding its meetings, which shall at all times be open to the public.