‘Where’s our Mayor?’
Marion residents take to social media looking for leadership from city’s chief elected official
firstname.lastname@example.org Marion resident Amanda Beck has a question for her neighbors.
“Has our Mayor spoken out about the current health crisis? Does he have any plans for the city?” she asked on the Marion, AR Residents Facebook page, along with a few follow-ups.
“Why are we seeing Marco McClendon talking about West Memphis but no one talking about Marion? City mayors are using shelters in place. Do we just wait for the governor? Where's our mayor?”
The post drew hundreds of eyes and nearly 200 comments in less than 24 hours after Beck posted her concerns on Monday afternoon.
Among the first to chime in was Stepfanie Dostal. “He doesn’t like to speak on the news,” she said. “At this time he hasn’t closed the city offices.”
Tammy Cook opined, “Well, he needs to get over that. There is a freaking pandemic going on.”
“There are lots of ways to inform the public without being in front of a camera” said Dostal.
While Mayor McClendon and Crittenden County Judge Woody Wheeless have been front and center during the COVID-19 crisis, Marion Mayor Frank Fogleman has not issued any public addresses. Fogleman has never been one to embrace social media, unlike McClendon and Wheeless, who have used the platform to release information for years.
Michael Tinnon said, “The mayor for Marion never comes out on anything.” Dostal added, “Basically, the governor and the county are the ones making the calls as to what to do. City offices are up to the Mayor.”
Beck was still looking for answers.
“So, rather thank looking to our elected city leader, we just…chill?
Carry on?” she asked.
Dostal retorted, “No, we should all call the mayor’s office and ask what’s been put in place to help people who can’t pay their water bill. What precautions are being taken to keep city workers safe in their offices and those of us who need to go in to business.
Or if there is a way for us to call in for now. We shouldn’t have to, but if everyone calls then maybe we will get a statement.”
Rhonda Medley noted, “Fortunately we have Woody Wheeless to speak out to us and for us.”
In addition to his duties as County Judge, Wheeless also serves as the Fire Chief for the City of Marion.
Dostal defended Fogleman’s silence further.
“Marion has its own water department but that and city offices are about it,” she said. “The governor has already asked us to stay home as much as possible, Woody has as well. I doubt if Mayor Fogleman got on the news and said it it would make anymore stay home than already are.” But she did add, “I agree he should let us know about city issues.”
Renee Conrad decided to take a political slant on the situation.
“It’s funny how folks complain about him all the time but yet they forget when it’s time for re-election,” she said. “I’ve heard that he is not running again so Marion will be getting a much needed change.”
Brenda Eldridge said, “I guess we are getting our information from the County Judge.”
To which Becka Boo added, “I mean, what else can they tell you? They have been saying avoid crowds, stay home, wash hands, etc… What more could anyone ask them? We have only had two confirmed cases here!”
That number increased to four on Wednesday.
Marshall Skinner noted, “It’s the same everywhere non essential business close and keep away from each other.” Dostal then had a few questions of her own.
“Mayor McClendon announced what arrangements were in place for West Memphis if people couldn’t pay utility bills. What about Marion and the water bills? Any precautions when entering a city office? I think they take your temp if it is absolutely necessary to go into a county building. Has Marion applied for assistance during this emergency if needed for the city? Is there anything that can be applied for?”
“I don’t think your getting in a county building,” said Skinner. “e just assessed and applied for tags online.
And I would call the water department for that info. And Entergy for the power questions. West Memphis has control of all utilities in their town.
For the record, you can still access important services at all county buildings. You will be asked what your business is and may be asked to make alternate arrangements.
Of course, there is a lot of information being delivered, even if it is not directly from the mayor.
Michael Molloy noted, “Trump has news briefing at 4:30 everyday. Governor Hutchinson has an update on YouTube almost everyday. You want the mayor to have one too? What else u want to know?”
“Things going on in Marion would be nice,” said Beck. “Neither Trump nor Asa have a vested interest in Marion and its citizens.”
“What's going on in Marion?” Molloy retorted. “It’s the same thing going on across the world! Wash your hands, stay home! Do as they ask. The mayor doesn't have to address that when the President and governor are already addressing it everyday… Just common sense, people.
Teresa West shared some thoughts.
“I understand what you are saying,” said West. “I do know what Mr. Fogleman looks like. I have not sat down and had any conferences with him. I have sent him letters on behalf of the drainage in my neighborhood. He sent people out to dig a little ditch. It helped a little but we need better drainage here. I did not get a letter back but what I just said. I felt he tried. I love his family. They are great people. I think what everyone in here is saying correct me if wrong.”
She did concede that Fogleman could be more present during the pandemic “The community would like to put a face with the leader of their community,” she said. “It could be in a conference online. Not everyone knows who he is even if he walked side beside of them. They would like to know if the city will charge late fees on the water bills for the month of April and disconnect that month due to this Unexpected issue going on in America.
Do we have any emergency centers to go to? Not only is the Covid-19 happening but it is springtime. Some cities have a safety place to go to during a tornado. Do we have a food bank in place for those to donate to or receive besides churches and including churches? Some places are still open that are closed in our closest cities.
Will those close? I am sure there are other questions that others can ask.
Those are just samples of some of the concerns I have spoke to others about.
We have a great city. We do have great leaders.”
Whether it was a coincidence or perhaps the online outrage, the City of Marion did begin a series of posts through the Chamber of Commerce relaying information to residents on Tuesday afternoon concerning many of the issues brought up during the social media discourse.