November 15, 2006 Edition

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Rogers, Roberts elected
to mayoral positions

Donnie Roberts (left) and Michelle Rogers look at the final numbers from last Tuesday's municipal elections, which show them to be the winners of the mayor's races in Hoxie and Walnut Ridge, respectively. Both Roberts and Rogers won their elections outright despite the fact that there were three candidates for Hoxie mayor and four candidates for mayor in Walnut Ridge.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt
Gretchen Hunt

Michelle Rogers was elected Walnut Ridge mayor and Donnie Roberts was elected mayor in Hoxie during the Nov. 7 municipal elections.

The final results revealed that neither candidate would require a runoff even though Rogers faced three opponents, and Roberts was in a three-man race.

Rogers, who defeated incumbent Mayor Glenn Murphy, Alderman Rickey Ditto and former Alderman John Monroe, will be Walnut Ridge's first female mayor.

A four-person race is usually a guarantee for a runoff, and Rogers said she was prepared for that to be the case.

"It was very humbling," Rogers said of winning the race outright. "I never expected it to turn out that way."

Roberts said he was also humbled by the support he received in his bid for election. He received more than 66 percent of the vote in his race against incumbent Mayor Paul Hendrix and Dennis Coggins.

"It just overwhelmed me, the support that the people in Hoxie had for me," Roberts said. "I'm proud that they have that respect for me."

Now, the candidates say they are looking to the future and how to live up to the expectations the citizens have for them.

"People have known me for years and know that I will follow through with what I have said I will do," Roberts said.

He said he has already been working on business development and cleanup issues. Roberts expects his experience on the Hoxie Re-use Committee and his 35 years as a businessman to help him as mayor.

"Serving on the Re-use Committee has been a learning experience," he said. "It has taught me about businesses ~ ways to go after businesses and help existing businesses."

Most recently, he has been owner and operator of Don's Quality Meats in Hoxie for 16 years, having sold the business approximately four months ago.

"Being in business you learn the ins and outs of everyday life ~ how to grow a business and stay in business," Roberts said. "I believe that will help me."

Rogers has a similar background having owned and operated a business, All-Star Music, for 15 plus years. She has also been a member of the Walnut Ridge City Council and is married to State Rep. JR Rogers, who is also a former mayor of Walnut Ridge.

"During JR's time as mayor and his first term as state representative, I have met with a lot of people," Rogers said. "I've built relationships with different departments and other elected officials."

Both candidates expressed their gratitude to their families and other supporters who helped in their election campaigns.

"Without JR's help, there's no way I could have done this," Rogers said. "I have to thank our daughter, Johnna, too."

Roberts said he has a lot to be thankful for.

"People supported me even more than I thought they would," he said.

Economic development is at the top of the agenda for both incoming mayors, and they have pledged that they would support each other and officials throughout the county.

"Adding businesses in Hoxie or Walnut Ridge or anywhere in Lawrence County will help us all," Roberts said. "If we can attract an industry to Walnut Ridge, it will help the people in Hoxie; and if we can attract a business to Hoxie, it will help people in Walnut Ridge."

Rogers agreed, saying, "What's good for Hoxie is good for Walnut Ridge and vice versa. We're all going to have to pull together. We're all going to have to get on the same page."

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