Dave Norris

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Dave Noel Norris, Sr.


Mayor of West Monroe, Louisiana
In office
July 1, 1978 – July 1, 2018
Preceded by Bert Hatten
Succeeded by Staci Albritton Mitchell

Born August 4, 1942
West Monroe
Nationality American
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Biddy Dupree Norris
Relations William Wiley Norris, III (brother and judge)
Children Cynthia Susan Norris

David Noel "Davy" Norris, Jr. Christopher Dupree Norris

Residence West Monroe, Louisiana
Alma mater West Monroe High School

University of Louisiana at Monroe
Louisiana Tech University
Mississippi State University

Occupation College professor
Long-term mayor
Religion United Methodist

Dave Noel Norris, Sr. (born August 4, 1942), is the Democratic[1] former mayor of his native West Monroe, Louisiana, a position which he held from 1978 to 2018. He was usually elected over the 40-year period with minimal opposition. West Monroe is located west of the Ouachita River across from the larger city of Monroe.

Norris was unseated in his bid for an eleventh term in the municipal election held on March 24, 2018, by the commercial photographer and city council member Staci Albritton Mitchell, a Republican. Mitchell led a four-candidate field with 1,241 votes (60 percent) to Norris' 798 votes (38 percent). Two No Party contenders shared the remaining 2 percent of the ballots cast. Turnout was 26.3 percent of registered voters.[2] There was earlier speculation that state Senator Michael Arthur "Mike" Walsworth, a Moderate Republican, would oppose Norris. but the veteran lawmaker cited state budget woes which need to be addressed and hence passed on a 2018 mayoral race.[3]

On April 5, 2014, Norris ran unopposed for his tenth and final term as mayor.[4][5] After earlier pledging to retire in 2018, Norris instead ran again but was defeated. Three Republicans, one Democrat, and one Independent won the five seats on the city council.[2]

Norris was admitted to Glenwood Regional Medical Center on the morning of his election loss to Mitchell. His family did not disclose details of the illness that caused him to be hospitalized. He was expecting to leave the hospital on or after March 27.[6]

Background

Norris is one of four children, two surviving, of William Wiley Norris, II (1909–1987), a native of Smith County in south central Mississippi, and the former Rosalie Beeson (1911–1996), who are both interred at Mulhearn Memorial Park Cemetery in Monroe.[7] His brother, William Wiley Norris, III (1936-2016), was a Monroe-based judge for many years.

Norris graduated from West Monroe High School.[8] In 1963, he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, then known as Northeast Louisiana State College. In 1965, he procured a Master of Business Administration from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. He obtained a doctorate in business administration from Mississippi State University in Starkville.[9]

From 1966 until his election as mayor in 1978, Norris was an associate professor of economics and director of the Small Business Institute at the his alma mater, ULM. After becoming mayor, he continued to teach part-time at ULM until 1998.[8][10] One of the students whom Norris mentored was Robert Townley "Bob" Mann, Jr., a journalist and political historian who holds the Douglas Manship Chair of Journalism at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.[11]

Political life

In 1971, West Monroe streamlined its city charter and expanded the powers of the mayor. Under Norris' predecessor as mayor, Bert Hatten, the city constructed a new City Hall, police department, jail, and convention center on the former Ouachita Valley Fairgrounds.[12]

Norris was a key proponent of the Sparta Reuse Project, which converts wastewater into fresh water to reduce the depletion of the Sparta Aquifer. The project is financed from a combination of local, state, and federal stimulus sources earmarked to the city and its engineering firm, Energy Ventures Analysis.[10] Under Norris, the city built the Ike Hamilton Expo Center, an indoor arena off Interstate 20 popularly called "The Ike". The center is used for equestrian events, conventions, trade shows, and some concerts.[13][14] Under Norris, the city built the West Ouachita Senior Center and expanded its recreational facilities to include Lazarre Park on the Ouachita River, Kiroli Park, a woodland experience in an urban setting, and Restoration Park, a wetlands park developed from a former gravel pit.[15]

In 2010, Norris was unopposed for his ninth term.[13] Despite struggles with aging infrastructure and municipal retirement commitments, West Monroe has been designated by the consumer advocacy website NerdWallet as one of the top four cities in Louisiana in which to rear a family. Favorable factors in West Monroe cited include median income, affordable home ownership, public school ratings, and economic growth.[16] Norris garnered his tenth term in 2014 but was unseated in his bid for an eleventh term in 2018 by the Republican Staci Albritton Mitchell.

Personal life

Norris is the choir director at the McGuire United Methodist Church in West Monroe. His wife, the former Biddy Dupree, is a pianist and worship coordinator.[8][17] He has also served on the board of the Salvation Army and the West Monroe Boys Club. He has also worked in the United Fund.[9]

Dave Noel "Davy" Norris, Jr. (born February 1969), son of Dave and Biddy Norris, holds the Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin[18] and is the director of the Louisiana Tech University Enterprise Center.[19] Biddy Norris's parents were Justus Theron and Iva Rawls Dupree. There are two other Norris children, Cynthia Susan Norris and Christopher Dupree Norris.[20]

Hall of Fame induction

In 2017, Norris was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield,[21]three years after his former student Robert Mann received that honor.

References

  1. Plug in Dave Norris, August 1942. voterportal.sos.la.gov. Retrieved on October 29, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Election Returns. Louisiana Secretary of State (March 24, 2018). Retrieved on March 24, 2018.
  3. Bonnie Bolden (January 5, 2018). Walsworth won't run for West Monroe mayor's seat. The Monroe News-Star. Retrieved on April 6, 2018.
  4. Races in a Parish: Ouachita. sos.la.gov. Retrieved on February 15, 2014.
  5. Greg Hilburn, "West Monroe Mayor Norris to seek 10th - and final - term," January 29, 2014. The Monroe News-Star. Retrieved on February 3, 2014.
  6. West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris hospitalized. KNOE (March 26, 2018). Retrieved on March 26, 2018.
  7. William Norris, Jr.. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on July 15, 2016.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 West Monroe Mayor Norris to deliver commencement at ULM. The Monroe News-Star (April 25, 2014). Retrieved on May 22, 2014 (article can no longer be accessed on Internet).
  9. 9.0 9.1 Making It: Mayor's Enthusiasm Promotes Interest. The Chacahoula (1984). Retrieved on October 29, 2013. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Mayor Dave Norris. whitehouse.gov. Retrieved on October 29, 2013.
  11. Three Tiger Stadiums Filled With Poor Children: The Scandal of Poverty in Louisiana. bobmannblog.com. Retrieved on October 29, 2013.
  12. Gordon E. Harvey, Historic Ouachita Parish: An Illustrated History. HPN Books, 2007, p. 44. Retrieved on October 29, 2013. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 George Vieto (February 6, 2010). West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris gets a ninth term unopposed. col129.mail.live.com. Retrieved on October 29, 2013.
  14. Ike Hamilton Expo Center. westmonroe.com. Retrieved on October 29, 2013.
  15. Mayor. westmonroe.com. Retrieved on October 29, 2013.
  16. Greg Hilburn. Norris likely to run for 10th term, October 16, 2013. The News-Star. Retrieved on October 29, 2013.
  17. Meet Our Staff. mcquireumc.org. Retrieved on October 29, 2013.
  18. Dave Noel Norris, Jr.. phdtree.org. Retrieved on October 29, 2013.
  19. Funding will help Tech boost job creation, business, August 11, 2012. cenit.latech.edu. Retrieved on October 29, 2013.
  20. Family Group Record for Dave Noel NORRIS and Biddy DUPREE. Dupree.ws. Retrieved on October 29, 2013.
  21. Greg Hilburn (March 11, 2017), "La.'s political legends take their place in Hall of Fame, The Monroe News-Star, March 14, 2017.