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Van Buren Mayoral Candidates Expect Close Race Again

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VAN BUREN (KFSM)- For a second time, Max Blake, the general manager of his family-owned construction company will face-off against incumbent Mayor Robert Freeman.

“I decided five years ago that I wanted to try and be involved with the city of Van Buren and try and figure out ways I could help grow the city, and I decided to run four years ago, and since then I decided to run for city council and [I] sit on the city council at this time,” Blake said.

Mayor Freeman is a retired army officer.

“When I came back to Van Buren, I began to serve my community because service is just a part of who I am,” he said.

Alderman Blake, a self-proclaimed political rookie has served on the city council for two years now. He says if elected, he plans to take his business experience to city government.

“I see Van Buren, and my goal is for it to grow, vitalize itself to create a vibrant town where people don’t feel like they have to leave town to enjoy [themselves],” Blake said.

The mayor is currently serving his second term and said if he wins, this will be his third and final term, wanting to finish the projects he’s started, including a new police station and senior center.

“We’ve come a long way; we’ve got a long way to go.” Mayor Freeman said. “You never stop and say, okay we’re through. There’s always something ahead, and my goal if elected over the next four years is to continue that, and at the end of the four years I want to be able to hand this off to the next person.”

“My decision [to run] was listening to the community and feeling like they’re ready for a change and trying to provide some things that’s not currently being provided,” Blake said.

If re-elected, Mayor Freeman said he’ll focus on improvements to city parks and economic development. He said he’s most proud of a 70-percent approval rate of the penny sales tax passed to help fund ongoing projects.

“Those results say a lot about the citizens of Van Buren,” he said. “I was really proud and still am proud say I was the mayor and leader at that time and want to continue that to the future.”

Blake believes a tax-base needs to be created through tourism, which he says happens by attracting commerce and having a vibrant downtown.

“It’s time for us to compete; it’s time for us to polish the city up and promote ourselves,” Blake said.

“Our downtown has struggled without a doubt, but was starting to see a turnaround. We're starting to see some investors that are there,” Mayor Freeman said. “We’ve got a great heritage; we’ve got a great history. My great-grandfather was a part of that downtown, and I want to see that continue.”

In 2010, records show freeman won by 56-percent of the votes. Both candidates say they expect this to be a close race as well on Nov. 4.

9 comments

    • atc8824

      Hodo is Mayor Freeman’s best friend.It’s the other way around especially if Freeman and Swaim both get in office.We will be singing just a good ole boy system.I have been a part of this city for 30 years I know who the good ole boys are and their agenda.Another example of the good ole boy system is Field of Dreams gets all the funding that Dunn asks for but the Diamond Center stands in almost ruins.Just a good ole boy never meaning no harm.Vote Max Blake Mayor,Darrell Sparkman City Council.

      • Amazed

        The one time I had any interaction with Mayor Freeman he seemed so arrogant and condescending. He had never met me and did not know me, nor my family, or even know if I did or did not vote in Van Buren. The same attitude is exhibited by many who have been in power for several years and think there is no way they will be voted out of office. For that reason alone he would not get my vote.

      • Mel

        Richard Hodo is supporting Blake, has his Signs on all his building and Vehicles.. So Mayor Freeman is not got the backing of Hodo this time !

  • Skooby

    ATC8824 you must of had your head under a rock for the last couple of years! Mayor Freeman and Mr. Hodo are not best friends. Allen Swaim would make a great alderman. Also, the Diamond Center is not in the city limits, it is controlled by the county. And for you Amazed, just because a man has confidence and pride in what he has accomplished for the betterment of the citizens of Van Buren does not make him arrogant and condescending. Mayor Freeman has a lot to be proud of and so do the residents that are willing to work as a team.. Unlike some that are self serving or think they have entitlement because of who they think they are. Some of the past people that intimidated and used character assassination to gain control are losing their clout and they are not happy. Mayor Freeman has always worked for the betterment of all residents and businesses in the City of Van Buren and will continue if given the chance. He is not a puppet as some candidates to any group of self serving hand full of people that are not getting their way.

  • CHARLES

    Mayor Freeman doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. He has followed through on his promises, and actively pursues those goals not yet accomplished. Believe the record, not the rhetoric. Keep in mind what happened last time a candidate promised “change” and “things not currently provided”. We got BO and obamacare, along with lots of other unintended consequences. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Van Buren’s mayoral situation is not broke.

  • Floyd

    I agree Charles! If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I would rather the City of Van Buren be remembered as the city that made improvements to a park that was abandoned by our federal government(Lee Creek). These improvements are being done with minimal city funds due to Mayor Freeman and others looking under rocks and shaking trees. Also, the city to be remembered for improvements to current city parks, senior inn, police department, fire protection, veterans parks, etc. Not to be remembered as a city where a gun fight happened. Rome was not built in one day! Neither will the City of Van Buren. I would like to know the team Mr. Blake keeps talking about. Maybe someone from V.B. needs to talk to Greenwood officials and find out who to speak to in L.R. and make a one day trip and bring home 500 thousand dollars. I don’t believe it is that easy, or every city would be doing it. Like you said Charles, walk the walk, talk the talk!

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