MORRIS — Editor’s Note: This is one in a series about local candidates for the Aug. 28 elections.
Morris Mayor Craig Drummonds is not running for re-election in August, which opens up the field to newcomers for the town’s top office.
Throwing their hats into the ring are current council members Charles Ray Densmore and Joe Pylant. Both men have served on the council for eight years. Both say they are qualified for the office and want to continue the work they have helped start.
Charles Ray Densmore
“The main reason I want to run for mayor is to keep the city headed in the same direction,” said Densmore.
He said he is in close contact with several developers who are eyeing Morris, and as mayor, he would continue to build on those relationships to help the town grow.
“I would hate to lose contact with those we’ve been working with,” he said. “I’d rather stay there in the position of mayor and continue forward with what we’ve struggled with for eight years... I’ve worked extremely hard to make some headway. If I’m not elected I’m afraid that will fall through the cracks. I’ve worked so hard to move us forward.”
One of Densmore’s priorities as mayor would be to bring a sewer system to Morris. He said grocery store and restaurant developers have told him that Morris is not feasible for their businesses because the town does not have a large enough sewer system.
He also said he is “pro police and pro fire,” and if elected, would make no changes to those departments.
Densmore, who also said he is running for mayor because Drummonds chose not to run for re-election, said he would take a hands-on approach to the job.
As chairman of the street department during his first four years as councilman, Densmore said he worked closely with street department employees by driving the roads looking for problems, and helping cut and remove tree limbs and other debris after storms.
On the administrative side, Densmore said he has written several of the ordinances that the Morris City Council has adopted.
“Being mayor doesn’t change things,” he said. “I’m retired, so I would be available every day for any issue that would come up. More than likely, I would be at city hall every day overseeing the normal day’s activities and resolving issues.”
Densmore also said he would be accessible to the public and would welcome citizens’ input.
He added that he wants to find a way to keep Morris’ youth in town by providing part time jobs, which he said hinges on commercial development.
“I’m looking at the best interest of the town. Personally, I have nothing to gain from any of this,” he said. “It’s probably more of a headache than anything. But I’m fine with that. I chose this.”
Densmore is a retired electrical contractor and former business owner.
“Craig [Drummonds] has done a great job. I told him from day one that when he didn’t run for mayor, I was going to run,” said Pylant. “I want Morris to continue to grow and stay on the right track the way it has done for eight years.”
Eight years ago, Drummonds and the council ran as a team. All members were elected. It is not the same group that was elected four years ago.
Pylant is again taking the team approach. Running with him as a team are unopposed council members Louis Resha, Corey Jones and Jack Womack. Also on Pylant’s team is John Dillard, who is running for Council Place 5 against Robert Keith.
“I went out and talked to them personally and asked if they would run,” Pylant said. “They’re all for it. They want all of us in at one time. Before, when we ran as a team, it worked well. We all worked together. It’s all about teamwork — if you dont have a team, nothing will get accomplished.”
If elected as mayor, Pylant said he wants to usher more business and commercial growth into Morris.
“We got the Shell station, and there are other things in the works,” he said. “I can’t say what they are right now, but there are businesses coming forward.”
Pylant said he also wants to see Morris grow residentially.
“I think it’s great that people are moving out to Morris and bringing their families. That’s what we want to see more of,” he said.
Last year, Pylant headed up a movie night at the city park, an event that was free for families. He said he wants to show the movies again this year when the weather cools a bit.
As for qualifications for the job, Pylant said his eight years experience serving on the city council is a big factor. He said he is also qualified to serve as mayor because he has managed various businesses.
“[A town] is a business. You have to run it like a business,” he said. “I feel like I have the leadership qualities to run the town. And I don’t think the people running on my team would run with me if they didn’t think I was qualified for it.”
Pylant is a former business owner of a screen print shop.