Cassville mayor race: Newcomer Lowe looks to make mark in Cassville

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mayoral challenger sees flooding, taxes, streets as main issues

Candidate for Cassville Mayor Colby Lowe has lived in the city for about four years, and he is looking to make his mark in the area politically, basing his mayoral platform on flood issues, taxes and streets.

Lowe graduated from high school in Roland, Okla., then began attending college when his first daughter was born, causing him to leave school and pursue a career.

“About four years ago, I moved to Cassville because it’s where my wife is from,” he said. “We checked it out and it looked like a chill place, so we are putting our roots in.”

Lowe, a Republican, said his bid for mayor is his first ever attempt for a political office, and the reasons behind him filing for the position stem from what he said is inaction among city leaders, especially when it comes to flooding and taxes.

“The current mayor does not seem to do anything for when the town floods,” he said. “And, the tax rates here are too high. We pay 8.6 percent in taxes, and I think St. Louis might be a little higher, but almost everyone else is below us. Also, when they redid the roads, they didn’t do a proper job. Like with First Street, you don’t chip and seal a main street.

“Everyone has told me the town is corrupt, and I want to find out for sure. The current mayor has been there for five or six years, and the town floods and they are not maintaining the roads. I don’t know what the priorities are, but I will make sure the town is taken care of.”

Lowe said when it comes to flooding issues, he has noticed the city cleaning out portions of Flat Creek, but that is not enough.

“Maybe we could have some flood-prone areas that are dual-use,” he said. “Like soccer fields that can flood and retain water, but be used as soccer fields when they are not flooded. I want a long-term fix to the flooding problems, and I’d look to the state and federal government to find the funds. Fixing the flooding problem will also bring businesses back.

“I’ve looked into the money situation, and one of my coworkers has a wife who is a secretary for an Arkansas senator, and he is guiding me on ways to find federal money.”

Lowe said another option he would like to explore is directing water elsewhere outside of the city.

“They’ve done some work on the creek, but it won’t be enough to hold all that water if we get a big rain,” he said.

Lowe said another way to spur the local economy would be to reduce taxes gradually over a period of years.

“I’d like to lower our taxes 1 percent over a few years, like going down a quarter-cent a year,” he said. “If we fix the flooding, we can probably find some incentives to bring in businesses. Maybe we can give them a discounted tax rate for their first couple years. We also need to capitalize more on Roaring river, as well.”

The city of Cassville collects four sales taxes: a 1-cent for the general fund, a half-cent for capitol improvements, a half-cent for storm water and a .375-cent for transportation — totaling 2.375 percent.

“I can’t answer where we would make cuts in the budget without looking at all we pay and what we spend our money on,” Lowe said.

Another big area of interest for Lowe is city streets, as he believes the city is taking the wrong approach.

“On First Street, they did a chip and seal over what was there, then put asphalt on it, so when you drive over it, it’s not as smooth as it should be,” he said. “I would talk to Hutchens Construction in town to see how that process could be improved. You can’t really tell a difference between the new First Street and the old one, except for the new blacktop. If we’re going to spend money on streets, we need to do more to fix them.”

Lowe also said when it comes to streets, the city should keep its promises, such as ones made about his street, Forest Circle.

“They first said they were going to fix Forest Circle two years ago, and they still haven’t,” Lowe said. “They have patched parts of it up, but that is only making it worse. It doesn’t matter whose road it is, if you promise to get it done, you need to get it done, and the dishonesty of the current administration needs to come to an end.”

Another thing Lowe would like to work on is easing the tax burden for consumers when buying big ticket items, like vehicles.

“In Arkansas, if go buy a new car, you can set up payment plan with the license office to make payments on the sales tax and get the new car right away,” he said. “That’s something I’d like to try to work out. It’s just a way to help people because when you buy a new car, you spend so much on sales tax.”

Lowe said when it comes to fulfilling his mayoral duties, if elected, he would make time to ensure everything is completed, as the position is part of a larger set of life goals.

“I would be in the office on my days off from my regular job, and I have more goals than mayor, politically,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to become a governor or member of Congress.”

Lowe said in his effort to be elected Cassville mayor, he has spoken to some business owners in town to get their thoughts and inform them of his candidacy.

“I haven’t done any campaigning because if my opponent is not campaigning against me, I don’t see the need to campaign against him,” Lowe said. “But, I have gone out and talked to some business people in town. They say we need someone new and younger, and I have gotten a positive response when I talk to people.

“I guess I have been a mystery candidate, but I do plan to be at the Breakfast and Ballot Issues put on by the Chamber to answer any questions people may have.”

Lowe also said, if elected, he would like to hold regular town hall-style meetings for residents to voice their concerns.

“I’m a pretty straight-forward person and I’m not very filtered,” he said. “I’m not going to promise anything I can’t keep, and I’m not going to answer questions I can’t answer honestly. I am also an open-minded person and will negotiate with others’ ideas.”

Lowe said if Shiveley wins reelection, he would congratulate Shiveley, but not give up on his goals.

“My eyes are set on a political career, and I have many goals,” he said. “A lot of people said I should have tried to get on the council before running for mayor, but I’m going for the big one.”

Lowe is married with two daughters, an 8-year-old and a 1-year-old. He works full time driving deliveries for Lowe’s in Springdale, Ark., and was previously an over-the-road truck driver.

Lowe and Shiveley square off in the municipal ballot on April 4.

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