DeQuincy prepares for historic mayoral election

Three candidates are running in the DeQuincy mayoral election Nov. 6. No matter which candidate gets the most votes, the winner will be a “first” for DeQuincy.

If James Harris is elected, DeQuincy will have its first black mayor. Heather Royer would be the first woman in the office, and Riley Smith could be the first mayor elected, in at least 80 years, who is not a DeQuincy native.

Smith has also said he will not accept a salary if elected, which might be a first.

“I can’t remember anyone who didn’t accept a salary,” said DeQuincy Mayor Lawrence Henagan of the part-time position.

“Part-time 24-hours a day,” Henagan added. “The pay is $1,500 per month with an experience boost each year.”

It won’t be the first time ever, but it is noteworthy that the next mayor will not be a Henagan.

A Henagan has been in office since 1966. L.A. “Buddy” Henagan, was first elected in 1965, serving from 1966 to 1982. He served in the state planning office until 1989, and again successfully ran for mayor until his death in 2004. His nephew and namesake, Lawrence, served the last 12 years.

“It’s going to be an exciting race,” said Margaret Henagan, the wife of the late L.A. “Buddy” Henagan. “We may have a runoff.”

“The new mayor won’t be a railroad engineer either,” said Mayor Henagan, who is an engineer for Union Pacific. “Except for Jerry Bell, the mayor for the last 54 years has been a railroad engineer.”

Jerry Bell was mayor from 2004 to 2008. He is retired military and was involved in law enforcement, special forces and military counter intelligence. Bell escorted Gen. Manuel Noriega from the Panama Embassy after helping negotiate his surrender. He is currently a detective for the DeQuincy Police, receiving a salary of $1 per year.

The late Gary Cooper was mayor in the mid-1980s, and served out the remainder of Buddy Henagan’s term. He was an engineer for the Pacific Railroad and is known for his work as head of the DeQuincy Railroad Museum and advocate for tourism and preservation.

In 2008, DeQuincy elected Lawrence Henagan, who served on the City Council for two terms before running for mayor. Elected three times, he decided to sit this one out. He and his wife, Della, want to spend more time with their grandchildren.

The American Press asked the three candidates to submit a statement of about 100 words that lists one strength or asset they bring to the office. Here are their replies:

James Harris: Starting as a U.S. Airforce Airman and for the last 40 years, I’ve learned the power of team building. The people and jobs changed but one thing stayed the same. When working as a team, great things were accomplished. I’ve used the team concept as an educator, entrepreneur, pastor and father. As mayor, we will build a powerful team to include council, city employees and city residents. Doors and books will be open. This team will be respectful, responsible and accountable, a team able to move this city forward to improve infrastructure, economy, education, recreation and living conditions, never forgetting our seniors, veterans and youth.

Heather Royer: I bring a new vision and fresh ideas to DeQuincy. We have so much history and we are a little treasure just waiting to be polished. I will focus on updating our sewer system, parks and roads. I will also focus on expanding our city limits so we will be able to serve more people and align ourselves to receive more state and federal funding for development. We need to market our town as a destination site as well as a bedroom community supporting the larger areas. We will revamp and revive DeQuincy together.

Riley Smith: I have been a business owner for over 16 years. As such, I feel I am able to bring to the table a working knowledge of growing a business, generating new business, balancing a budget and working with people. I want to see DeQuincy marketed as a great place to live and raise our families. I believe I have the experience and qualifications needed to build unity, meet the needs of the community and manage the day-to-day operations of the city. It is my vision to see DeQuincy grow, but never lose the feel of a “bedroom community.”””City of DeQuincy signSpecial to the American Press

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