By: Tammy Curtis, Managing Editor
Cave City Mayor Jonas Anderson was elected as the new president of the Arkansas Municipal League during the organization’s recent 89th annual convention as it presented anew slate of officers for the 2023-2024 period. Anderson served the League as District One vice president, 2020-2021; first vice president, 2022-2023;and on the Executive Committee. In his acceptance speech, Anderson outlined his priori-ties for his year long term. At the top of his list is recruiting the next generation of local government leaders and public servants.“ As you know, bringing in young-er people, that’s the only way we can keep this going,” Anderson said.
During his terms as mayor, Anderson has helped move Cave City forward . Most recently, he has been instrumental in helping with a play-ground expansion to the city park and establishing a pocket park within the city that is currently being completed. Anderson was humbled by the nomination and election and spoke out stating. “When I joined the city council in 2010, I knew virtually nothing about the ins and outs of municipal government. I just wanted to serve a few months left in a vacated term, do some good for Cave City, and keep moving ahead with life. My how things have changed!” He went on to discuss how he became a part of the Arkansas Municipal League and learned of its purposes and inner workings. “Council Member Richard Hawkins and I decided to begin attending every League workshop and convention possible, to learn as much as possible about how to best serve in our roles on the council. That was 2011. Seven years later Anderson said he had fallen in love with the league staff and felt the importance of the mission. In 2018, he earned the league’s“ Certified Municipal Official” certification. Executive Director, Mark Hayes, and Batesville Mayor Rick Elumbaugh (a past league President),both reached out and strongly suggested that Anderson accept an appointment to the governing board of the league, known as the Executive Committee. “I was admittedly hesitant, at first. Could I take on an extra role? Could I do the role justice if I did accept it? Would it be a burden on my family time? These two colleagues-turned-friends were encouragingly persistent, and so I accepted.”
He soon accepted the role in a one year term as District One Vice President.“ After that year term, as I was sitting in a session at our summer convention, I got a text from Mayor Elumbaugh. “Can you step outside into the hall? ”Yikes! Was something wrong back home? His smile immediately put me at ease, as he said that I had been nominated to serve as1st Vice President and asked if I would accept it. After saying “Wow, are you kidding me?”, He began that term in June 2022.Just six months later after then League’s then president’s term as mayor ended in his home town, he was elevated to president fill out her year term. It was during this year’s summer convention and Anderson’s 40th birthday week he was elected as president.
“The league staff and over 1,000 city officials and employees from allover Arkansas took great care to serenade me on my birthday, greet my family allover the convention hall, and we even had a special birthday dinner arranged for me on my big night. It was just truly remarkable, to say the very least. They totally spoiled us, “Anderson explained of the convention and being able to attend with his family. While humbled to have been elected, the full term election as President was also surreal to Anderson.“ Folks, my heart is overflowing with excitement and gratitude. That new council member in 2010never dreamed of this. To my knowledge, I am honored to be the first from Sharp County to serve the league as an officer in its 89 year history.”
Anderson outlined a few of his priorities as President. These include –
•Ensuring that we are actively engaging and recruiting the next generation of leaders for Arkansas’ cities and towns; – Continuing our work to protect and promote local authority and control, because we know that local government is best suited to make decisions that directly affect our residents;
• Continuing our work to better train and equip local governments to deal with cyber security issues we know can cripple critical services, and wreak economic havoc in our communities. Our new partnership with Forge Institute will be a gamechanger;
• Continuing our work to hold pharmaceutical companies and other entities re-sponsible for the opioid epidemic that is destroying lives and communities across Arkansas, help bring some relief and restitution to those most affected, and equip communities and leaders to slow and reverse the trend altogether;
• Encouraging and inspiring local government leaders to be bold and courageous in rejecting the poisonous, partisan vitriol that is sweeping our national and state political discourse. We must lead and work together from positions of honesty and respect, even though we will disagree at times. Our residents lose when we are constantly distracted by petty, shallow arguments and pointless dramatics.”
According to a release from the League, the convention covered an array of topics important to Arkansas’ cities and towns, including abating the opioid epidemic, an overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act, understanding and mitigating cyber-security threats, and a review of legislation affecting municipalities that passed during this year’s 94th General Assembly. The convention also included three hours of continuing education as part of the League’s voluntary certification program for municipal officials and personnel.