Caleb Norris can be full of surprises. So can his wife, Ashley, who gave birth to their second son last Saturday. The baby wasn't due to make his appearance until next week.
A couple of years ago when Norris first announced his candidacy for Maumelle city attorney, a few folks were surprised he was running but even more were surprised when he won. His foray into Maumelle politics was running and winning a City Council seat in 2012, another surprise. But running for mayor is not one of his surprises. That news has been floating around for several weeks.
“When I first began this journey in 2012, my only goal was to become more involved in the community and to make a difference in our local government,” Norris said. “It never crossed my mind that I would become the city's first full-time city attorney and would now run for mayor.
“However, with each step I've taken, I've become more and more educated with not only the current state of Maumelle but also with other cities around the state.
“I am running for mayor because I believe the key to Maumelle's future is its residents. A city government that loses sight of its residents has lost its very purpose for existing. When I ran for City Council in 2012, I promised that I would always put the 'Residents First.' Although we often hear the word 'grassroots' when talking about campaigns or movements, we rarely hear that term associated with governing or governments. As cliché as it may sound, I firmly believe in a city government of the people, by the people and for the people; I believe in grassroots government.
“I believe that our city government has a moral obligation to not only be transparent but also to actively communicate with, engage and involve the residents. To not only have a specific destination but also a plan on how to get there. We must not only strengthen our weaknesses, but also preserve, protect and improve our strengths.”
Norris, 38, worked at the Arkansas Municipal League, where he exclusively represented Arkansas cities prior to becoming Maumelle's city attorney.
“This valuable experience allowed me to work closely with a wide variety of cities across the State,” Norris said. “There are over 500 cities in Arkansas. We should learn from the successes and failures of our neighboring communities.”
He is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Bowen School of Law. He is the president of the Maumelle Lions Club, a former U.S. Marine, a graduate of the Maumelle Citizens Police Academy and the Maumelle Citizens Fire Academy and is a Certified Municipal Official.
We have over five months to go in the race, so I will be devoting more space to this race as we get closer to the filing deadline. At this point, I am not sure if incumbent Mayor Mike Watson is planning on running for reelection, but he should be making an announcement soon. Last time I checked with him, he was uncertain. The filing deadline is mid-August, so there's time for others to jump in.
I love surprises.
First you say you will and then you don't
I received a bit of confusing information last week from Goodwill. First, there was a rumor they were discontinuing book sales at their Maumelle location and would become be a donation-only location. I then checked with Goodwill and they told me they were completely closing the location until they could find another larger space. Then I get an email with the following message from Kerri Nettles, public relations and community engagement manager at Goodwill Industries of Arkansas:
“We apologize for the miscommunication. Our location in Maumelle is not closing. Our donation center at 1900 Club Manor Drive will remain open. Goodwill, will no longer sell books at this location, but you will be able to buy books at any of our store locations. Go to www.GoodwillAR.org for a list of locations. We value all of our customers and donors in Maumelle, and we are searching for a new location where we will be able to provide even more services and merchandise.” So, there you have it.
See you on the Boulevard.
Neal Moore is a public relations and advertising consultant and freelance writer. If you have a community concern, Maumelle news tip or if you're just irritated about something, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.