New City Officials
By Billy Davis
Batesville residents voted overwhelmingly Monday for a new Ward 4 alderman, continuing a shift at the polling place that is filling city government with new names, and younger faces, in elected positions.
In the Ward 4 race, voters chose first-time candidate Eddie Nabors, 55, over five-time incumbent Bobbie Jean Pounders.
Nabors bested Pounders 285 to 135, according to official election results. His showing amounted to a 67-percent of 428 votes cast.
Nabors’ win follows an upset in the May 2 party primary, when Ward 2 voters chose challenger Ted Stewart over incumbent Rufus Manley.
Some election observers have pointed to the lackluster turnout in that race, saying some voters stayed home and did not vote.
When Nabors and Stewart take their seats in July, Batesville’s board of aldermen will include only one longtime incumbent, Bill Dugger.
Dugger, who begins his fourth term in July, did not face an opponent in this year’s municipal election.
The board also includes Alderman-at-Large Teddy Morrow, who begins his second term in July, and Ward 3 Alderman Stan Harrison, who won a special election in 2007.
Morrow, who turns 40 this year, is the youngest face on the board of aldermen. But Mayor Jerry Autrey, when he won office in 2005, was the second-youngest face at age 56.
Mayor Jerry Autrey hinted at a coming trend in 2001, his first run for public office, when he lost by 13 votes to longtime mayor Bobby Baker.
Autrey returned in 2005 and defeated a thick field of candidates to win his first term.
“When I took office, I was almost the youngest,” Autrey said this week. “In four years’ time, now Bill Dugger is the senior person on the board.”
Autrey also said he is fielding more phone calls – more often in the form of complaints – from younger Batesville residents.
“Most of those phone calls used to come from older residents,” he said. “I can tell from the phone calls I’m getting that younger people are staying here, and they’re interested in Batesville and making it a better place to live.”
In the upcoming four-year term, Autrey said city leaders will address the animal shelter, increasing drug enforcement, increasing retail, and upgrading and expanding the parks.
“I thought we had plenty of parks, but the (phone) calls tell me otherwise,” the mayor said, attributing many of those calls also to younger constituents.
Batesville voters apparently felt comfortable voting for a Republican, since Nabors chose the GOP label for his first venture into politics. Pounders had served as a Democrat.
Dugger also switched to the Republican Party when he sought re-election.