Two face incumbent Monticello mayor

Published 5:00 am Monday, March 9, 2009

Monticello Mayor Dave Nichols will face two challengers in thenon-partisan election on Tuesday, June 2, pitting his 12-year stintas top executive against two political first-timers.

Nichols is being challenged by Richard Sykes, a 25-year veteranEnglish teacher recently retired from the Lawrence County SchoolSystem; and Joan Parkman, the mother of a downtown businessowner.

Both challengers’ backgrounds are reflected in their reasons forrunning – Sykes touts management as his motivation for seekingoffice, while Parkman wants to revitalize the city’s retailcommunity.

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“I’m just not really happy with the way things have gone thelast 12 years,” Sykes said. “There’s excessive buying, excessivespending, property prices are going up … I want to stop wastefulspending.”

Sykes said one of his primary goals if elected would be to makethe mayor’s position a part-time job, cutting its salary inhalf.

“I just don’t think anybody who runs for public office shoulduse that to make their living,” he said. “When you only meet onetime a month and you get excessive dollars for that, to me that’stoo much. We’re a little community, and make a living off the town,I think that’s wrong.”

Sykes said he had considered challenging for the office in thepast, but would not have been able to share time between theoffice’s duties and those of education. Now retired, Sykes istaking his shot, though he said his campaign is more of a protestto the current administration than political career building.

“You’ve gotta stand for something or you’ll fall for anything,”he said.

Parkman, meanwhile, said her interest in running for mayor isrooted in her love of Monticello and a desire to restore a retailcommunity that has ebbed with Highway 84’s bypassing of thetown.

“We need some growth here,” she said. “We just do not have verymany retail businesses anymore. We just need to be in contact withpeople to see if some small businesses would be interested incoming to Monticello.”

Parkman said she was particularly connected with the economicdownturn affecting small businesses because of her daughter, LauraEvans, who owns Plain and Fanci, a multi-purpose business. Shehopes to surround her daughter’s store with more small retailoutlets.

“We are desperate for some retail stores,” she said.

To win the mayor’s seat, both Sykes and Parkman will have todefeat Nichols, who was elected to his first of three consecutiveterms in 1997. The incumbent mayor is confident of his chances tobegin a fourth term.

“I believe I’ve got a proven record to run on,” Nichols said. “Ithink people can look around and see Monticello is a much betterplace now that it was 12 years ago.”

Nichols said he is aiming for the office for the fourth time tooversee to fruition various city projects begun under hiswatch.

“These are projects we believe are important to the future ofMonticello, and in these uncertain times, we need some provenleadership to make sure they get done,” he said.

Besides the race for mayor in Monticello, the only othercontested race is being run between incumbent Ward Three AldermanJames Wilson and challenger Martha Watts, who owns the insurancefirm Watts Agency Inc. Neither candidate could be reached forcomment.

Incumbent aldermen Jerry Goode of Ward One, Steve Moreman ofWard Two, Kevin Garrett of Ward Four and Craig David of Ward Fiveare running unopposed.

City Clerk Deborah Lea said this year’s election is lighter thannormal. In the 2005 election, four of the six officers werecontested, with five candidates competing for a single ward.