Written by Emma Jones // Photos provided by mayoral candidates
Four candidates are running for mayor of Searcy this election cycle, three of whom are Harding graduates.
Current mayor Kyle Osborne announced that he is running for re-election, and April Butler, Mat Faulkner and Jason McGlawn have also announced their candidacy for the position.
Before Osborne was elected mayor last term, he worked 33 years with law enforcement in Searcy and served as the chief of police. In a video posted on his campaign website, Osborne discussed leading Searcy during a global pandemic and his plans to continue expanding opportunities in the community.
“Facing a global pandemic certainly rocked our whole world, but through it all, I’m proud to say that Searcy stayed strong,” Osborne said. “As a community, we’ve continued to see growth and expansion. We have seen collaborations among community leaders, business owners, schools, nonprofits and our citizens, and this is only the beginning.”
Butler has been a teacher at Searcy High School for the last 17 years. She is a Harding alumna and worked as a dorm mom and an adjunct professor at the University for several years. She said she believes her position as an educator gives her a unique perspective of Searcy and that she’s focused on bringing more transparency to city government.
“More can be done as far as letting residents know what’s going on in the city,” Butler said. “We need to be more proactive in our work with the city chamber, and even more proactive in our work with the state economic council.”
Faulkner, a Harding alumnus who previously worked as the assistant technical director in the theatre department, is the founder of Think Idea Studio, a digital marketing firm based in Searcy. Faulkner is running under the motto, “together we can do so much.” He said the meaning behind his motto was inspired by the idea that the Searcy community is better and stronger when it works together.
“We should embrace collaborating with those who have different skill sets, experiences and viewpoints than our own,” Faulkner said. “I think it is important to note that it is not on a single person to improve our community; rather, it is a cooperative effort of every community member to improve our town.”
Also a Harding alumnus, McGlawn is a sergeant for the Searcy Police Department. He earned his bachelor’s and two master’s degrees from Harding and previously taught in the Department of Education. McGlawn said one of his focuses is making people the priority of city government, and he has found a unique way of making connections with community members during his campaign.
“Since I declared that I’m running for mayor, I started using a hashtag on Facebook — #literallyrunningformayor — and running in different neighborhoods,” McGlawn said. “If I see somebody, I’ll stop and talk to them, and it’s opened a lot of awesome conversations with people. No matter what happens with the race, I know that God has used it to make me grow.”
The Searcy Regional Chamber of Commerce held a Zoom forum with the mayoral candidates yesterday at 2 p.m. Though the forum was invite-only, it was recorded and will be shared with the public at a later date, according to a Sept. 19 article by The Daily Citizen.
Early voting for the Nov. 8 election begins on Oct. 24 and will be held at the White County Cooperative Extension Office and the Carmichael Community Center. Students who maintain a permanent or temporary residence in Searcy can change their voter registration to this area if they want to participate in this year’s election cycle.