The Jacksonville City Council on Thursday welcomed James Bolden III as its newest alderman.
Bolden was sworn into office on the same day by Justice of the Peace Bob Johnson. Bolden was elected in November to fill the position of Ward 1, Position 2 alderman when he defeated Jim Moore. However, he was sworn into office early because of the departure earlier this year of long-time City Alderman Marshall Smith who resigned to move closer to one of his daughters and grandchildren. Smith served as a Jacksonville alderman for more than 30 years.
Smith’s position remained vacant because the 2012 election was so close.
"My main goal is economic development," Bolden said.
This is Bolden’s first stint on the city council but he is not new to public office. From 2004-08, he was the Jacksonville representative to the elected board of education for the Pulaski County Special School District.
"Anytime I can serve the public in the city I am always happy," Bolden said. "It was a good experience when I served on the school boards."
It was during those years the county district was removed from being declared by the state in a condition of fiscal distress.
From June 1995 to present, has been pastor of Evangelistic Ministries Church, 101 N. Elm St, Jacksonville.
He is a retiree of the U.S. military after serving 24 years. He has served until recently as a member of the Jacksonville City Water Commission and resigned a few weeks ago because he is not permitted to serve as both an elected alderman and a water commission member. He served on the water commission for 6.5 years.
Bolden said he also wants to see policies implemented in the city that will encourage more people to move back into Jacksonville.
"There have been quite a few people who have moved out of the city," Bolden said. "We want to make the city more enticing to get people to move back here."
In the last U.S. Census, Jacksonville was one of the few cities in Central Arkansas that saw a decrease in population. Fewer people translate into fewer federal and state tax dollars going into city coffers.
Bolden said he wants to see an active Jacksonville youth council and more activities provided for young people to keep them occupied.
"Everyone can’t afford to pay a fee to have fun," Bolden said.
Bolden said he is convinced that Jacksonville will have its own school district within the next three years.
"That wheel is starting to turn," Bolden said. "Pulaski County is in favor of releasing us now. That wasn’t the case when I was on the school board."
Besides serving on the water commission and school board, he has also been active with the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club.
Bolden has been married to his wife, Dr. Cynthia E. Bolden, for over 20 years. They have four boys and six grandchildren.