JACKSONVILLE ?? As a result of the November election, Jacksonville City Council has two new councilors.
Danielle “Rose” Rains defeated Roger Sundermeier Jr. for the seat of Ward 5, position 2 from Les Collins, who decided against re-election. Rains is the youngest councilor of Jacksonville at 23 since former Mayor Gary Fletcher won a seat at just 18.
“I was really shocked by the rest of us [that I won]”Rain said.” The unlikely edges were the icing on the cake and made my belief stronger – that’s far bigger than me. “
Rain brought 3,950 votes to Sundermeier’s 2,269.
Brian Blevins defeated Lance Dulaney with 52 percent of the vote for the seat on Ward 2, Position 1, which had been vacated by former Police Chief Gary Sipes. Blevins was sworn in on December 8th and the first council meeting for him was on December 17th. Rain is sworn in on January 6th.
“I’ve seen both sides of progress and regression for what the city was doing,” said Blevins. “The decisions that were made didn’t make things better for the people who supported them [certain council members].
“I wanted to be the voice for the people who need it.”
According to Rains, she was inspired to run for city council because of her desire for a better future.
“My mother taught me my family history when I was young, and I learned that I, the granddaughter of Rose Madison, was a descendant of one of our founding fathers,” she said. “Coach Todd Romaine taught me that there is wisdom in history and what not to be done, the power in it and the power in those who, despite all conceivable obstacles, appear to humbly claim their day.”
She said the late Cliff Happy taught her not to automatically believe a version of history just because someone wrote or said it, but to understand all viewpoints.
“I hope to inspire my nation to recognize their own share of our civic responsibility,” she said. “I will work to get a fair representation of what is constitutionally our right and seek a solution to the problem” at large. “
She said that in Jacksonville, councilors’ positions are segregated by district, but in a general vote, each person votes to determine who will represent the districts, even if the voter doesn’t live in that particular ward.
Blevins said he has been a fairly vocal person in the Jacksonville community in recent years, particularly critical of Jacksonville Police Department spending and certain private meetings of council members in violation of the council’s open assembly laws.
Gary Fletcher was Mayor of Jacksonville from 2009 to 2018 and has known Blevins for nearly 10 years.
“Brian has been very involved in this community and whenever he sees a need he has stepped up and met it,” said Fletcher. “He’s just a giver and wants to make a difference.”
In 2018, Blevins secured food and cash donations for the Jacksonville Boys & Girls Club and its nutrition programs. That year he donated a 3D printer and three 40-inch flat screen televisions to the Martin Street Youth Center.
One thing Blevins would like to change during his tenure is changing the regulation Fletcher put in place to ban pit bulls. Blevins said he wanted to replace the regulation with a very strict regulatory process for dogs, like the regulations that have been introduced in cities like Cabot and Sherwood.
“I worked very hard for about 15 years to get that,” said Fletcher. “So we sometimes disagree, but Blevins has about four or five things he’s already trying to address.
“He’s going to keep the council busy as it sounds.”
“If we eliminate all reasons why people don’t live here,” said Blevins, “it will give them reasons why they want to live here.”
He said he would also like to set up a junior city council to help get the youth and families of the area excited about what is happening in Jacksonville.
“We need to regain people’s trust and the only way to do that is by listening to them and hearing what they have to say,” said Blevins.
Rains graduated from North Pulaski High School in 2015 and attended the University of Arkansas College at Little Rock with a dual major in business information systems and computer science. During her second year of AmeriCorps service, she took a hiatus from her college education, half a dozen classes before graduation.
“I was being called to bigger things and had to make sure I took the time to take myself,” she said. “I’m looking forward to completing the undergraduate degree and going to graduate school and studying economics.”
She said she hoped for fair representation through her service on the city council.
“My vision is a community that is fairly represented by our leaders – leaders who are able to hold this city accountable for its responsibilities,” she said, “whether inherited from previous administrations or otherwise, and the Not passing things on to the next generation.
“[We need] those who listen to their community rather than speak up on their own beliefs. “
Blevins graduated from Tennessee High School in 1996 and moved to Jacksonville from Sumter, South Carolina about 23 years ago. He is the former owner of the Game Store in Jacksonville; The store closed at the end of 2018. Part of his goal as a city councilor is for the city to hire a full-time economic developer and communications director to manage the city’s social media accounts and update its website.
“We have an outdated website and that is our lifeline to the city,” he said. “I do not think so [some of the other councilmen] Understand that this is the main tool for reaching the city as a whole. “
Regen said that while she is the youngest city councilor, she will no longer allow herself to be challenged by “someone else’s willful ignorance or personal prejudice”.
“When I’m firm and unapologetic, most people reflect and give me the basic human respect we all deserve,” said Rains. “We need a representation of different perspectives.
“It’s not just age, but also gender, race, religion, creed and skin color. We have to try to understand all points of view. “
“I’m not wasting these two years,” said Blevins. “I will come out with my weapons burning. … I will be different from any councilor these citizens have seen. “