Tommy Davis

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Marvin Thomas "Tommy" Davis​


In office
November 5, 2013 ​ – December 27, 2018​
Preceded by Joe Cornelius, Sr. (interim mayor)​
Succeeded by Terry Gardner

Minden City Council (District D)​
In office
January 2007​ – November 5, 2013​
Preceded by Robert Drew White​
Succeeded by Michael Scott Toland​

Born September 29, 1942​
Stephens, Ouachita County, Arkansas, USA​
Died
Resting place
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) (1) Vernie Bryan Davis (died 1996)

(2) Nelda Joy Ward Hensley Davis​

Children From first marriage:

Scott Patrick Davis
​ Stanley Paul Davis
​ Suzanne Davis Burkett​

Occupation Businessman (real estate)​
Religion Southern Baptist

Marvin Thomas Davis, known as Tommy Davis (born September 29, 1942), is the former mayor of Minden in Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. Sworn into office on November 5, 2013,[1] he was elected to a full term on December 6, 2014.[2]

2013 special mayoral election

A Republican, Davis handily won the special election held on October 19, 2013, when he unseated interim Mayor Joe Cornelius, Sr., an African American Democrat and the former Mayor Pro Tem and District A member of the Minden City Council. Cornelius had served since June 27 upon the death of Mayor Bill Robertson, the longest-serving mayorin Minden history. Robertson had assumed the office in January 1991.[3]

Davis polled votes 2,254 votes (61 percent); Cornelius, 821 ballots (22 percent). A second African-American Democrat, Walter "Woo" Morgan, Jr. (born July 1970), a barber and hair stylist, received the remaining 646 votes (17 percent).[4] Of the 8,298 registered voters inside the city limits, 3,721 (44.8 percent) cast ballots. More than one thousand of those ballots were cast during early voting, which propelled Davis to a head start in the counting with 72 percent.[5]

Upon his becoming mayor, Davis' District D seat on the Minden City Council became vacant. He was first elected to the council on September 30, 2006, when he defeated the then Democrat Terry Gardner, 481 (58.1 percent) to 346 (41.8 percent).[6] The council voted unanimously on November 5 to appoint another Republican businessman, Michael Scott "Mike" Toland (born September 1959), to fill Davis' council seat.[1] Toland followed in the steps of his grandfather, Cecil C. Toland (1905-1976), an oil products distributor, who was elected to the city council in 1952.[7] Gardner, a businessman and entrepreneur, was defeated again for the city council in the 2014 primary, that time by Mike Toland. ​

After Robertson's death, a letter which he had written while trying to recover from his fatal illness was released. By this means, Robertson posthumously endorsed Davis as his preferred successor should Robertson become unable to complete his term, which extended until January 1, 2015.[8] The Minden City Council, however, ignored Robertson's request and voted three-to-two along racial lines to elevate Cornelius as the interim mayor.[9] On July 19, Davis announced that he would seek to fill through the special election the remaining months of Robertson's term.[10]

In the campaign for mayor, Davis called for the creation of industrial jobs to enhance the spending capacity of the citizens.[11] Davis proposed improvements at the south industrial complex, including construction of an access road and water and sewerage infrastructure. "We have two hundred acres that are available down there, but we need to be able to get to that acreage to develop it. That's across the railroad tracks, so we need to put in a railroad crossing."[11] Davis also urged that the city increase its electrical power grid and water storage capacity.[11]

The 2014 city budget under Davis included 2 percent raises for city workers and increased fees for some city services, which were passed along to the public: "I don't want to cry wolf, but with our revenue being flat and everything costing more than it used to, we're having to work hard to get a balanced budget. But I'm confident we will have one because we don't want to take it out of reserves."[12]

Election of 2014

Davis is only the third Republican elected mayor of Minden since 1966, the others having been Arthur Thomas "Tom" Colten and Paul A. Brown.[3] The term extended for under fifteen months.[9] Davis ran again in the runoff election on December 6, 2014, for a full term as mayor. He faced a No-Party candidate, Charles Deck "Chad" Odom (born February 1975), who holds a Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies and Regional Planning with an emphasis in International Economic Development from the University of New Orleans.[13] In the November 4 primary, Davis led the three-candidate field with 2,045 votes (44.5 percent) to Odom's 1,467 (31.9 percent). In third place was former Mayor Joe Cornelius, Sr., the 2013 losing candidate, with 1,089 votes (23.7 percent).[14] Odom is the son of Webster Parish former Police Juror Charles D. Odom (born January 1951), an Independent, and Pattie Lou Cook Odom (born October 1951), the Minden municipal downtown and economic development director who lost a race in 1991 as a Democratic candidate for state representative for Webster Parish. Odom's maternal grandfather was Harold Rae "Boe" Cook (1925-1997),[15] the owner of and popular broadcaster for KASO radio in Minden. One of his great-grandfathers was S. P. D. Coyle, a former mayor of Cotton Valley north of Minden, who died in 1955.[16]

Davis prevailed in the runoff by 225 votes, 2,346 (52.5 percent) to Odom's 2,121 (47.5 percent).[2] Davis said that his narrow victory was "not about me. It's about Minden and where we need to go and where we want to go." Barbara Robertson, widow of former Mayor Bill Robertson, said Davis's victory for a full term was "like fulfilling a dream … This was what he [Robertson] wanted. If he wasn't mayor, he wanted it for Tommy." Mrs. Robertson said that Davis like her husband understands the importance of reserve funds in case of emergencies."[17]

Chad Odom said that while he was temporarily discouraged by his defeat: "We caused some of the most powerful people in Minden to spend a lot of money trying to beat a good idea. We're not going away, not going to pretend this didn't happen. The important thing is we continue pushing toward what we want as a community."[18] However, Chad Odom soon left Minden to become the economic development director for Port Lavaca, Texas. In January 2017, he took the position as executive director of the Wharton Economic Development Corporation in Wharton, Texas.[13]

On December 30, 2014, Davis dismissed Pattie Odom, his former opponent's mother, from her five-year position as the economic and downtown development director, a post outside civil service. Odom noted that the timing of her exit made it impossible for her to complete a series of end-of-year reports required in the position. Odom said that Davis "asked for my resignation and I said 'No'. He said, due to reorganization, you will be terminated today (Tuesday). You don't fit into the picture.'"[19] Davis said that economic development work would cotinue in his administration.[20]​ The establishment of the position of economic development director is a result of an assessment through the Louisiana Development Ready Communities, a plan to assist a city regarding economic and residential development.[21]

Mrs. Odom appealed her termination, but the city council in an open forum unanimously upheld the dismissal. Odom indicated that she would consider legal action against the city. Davis said that had the council voted to rehire Odom, she would have had to remain in her previous position, which no longer exists because of reorganization.[22] The city could not hire a new director until enabling legislation passes the legislature in Baton Rouge. Then state Representative Gene Reynolds introduced a bill favored by Mayor Davis and the city council which would permit the mayor alone with council concurrence to exert all power regarding the hiring and firing of a new economic development director. Meanwhile, all seven members of the previous economic development board resigned. The city hence has no board or no director on duty.[23] James Graham, an African-American native of Virginia and formerly from Delaware, began work as the city's new economic development director on August 6, 2015. Davis said that the city was working to obtain land which businesses can immediately occupy upon their relocation to Minden. The focus was on water, sewer, and electrical infrastructure, he said.[24]

Mayoral matters

In 2017, Davis advanced a proposed annual municipal budget of $35,164,835 in revenues and $35,539,545 in expenses. Under the plan, the city would use its reserves to fill the $374,710 gap. "The reality is, we are either going to have to raise more revenue or cut services. I know the general public thinks we don't spend our money wisely, but we have made cuts to the budget," Davis said. To draw more revenues, Davis and city leaders planned to reconfigure water billings so that consumers will fall into one of four tiers based on usage.[25]

In August 2017, Mayor Davis announced that prints of two Ben Earl Looney paintings, the Louisiana State Capitol and the Pentagon Barracks in Baton Rouge, would be displayed in the Cypress Room at Minden City Hall. Davis obtained both prints from Keith Ardoin, an art collector and a town council member in Krotz Springs in St. Landry Parish, whom he met at the Louisiana Municipal Association annual convention. Ardoin made the offer after learning about Looney's Minden background.[26]

On July 12, 2018, Davis gave welcoming remarks for the statewide conference of the African-American Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, which met at the Mt. Zion congregation in Minden for the installation of the Fourth Episcopal District bishop, C. James King, Jr., of Mississippi. Davis bestowed King with a key to the city. Of his initial impression of Minden, King said: "Minden is really nice – I've really liked the people I've met ... they welcomed us tremendously."[27]

The city council approved Davis' last budget for 2018-2019 in the amount of $33.3 million. The mayor called the spending plan "a very tight budget this year. … We have scrubbed it very close. We still left in some big projects that need to be done, some equipment purchases, and some street projects that desperately need to be done. But there’s no fluff in it at all – it’s very, very tight.”[28]

2018 election

Davis did not seek a second full term in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on November 6, 2018, in conjunction with congressional races.[29] A Democrat, William Kerry "Winky" Newer (born June 4, 1962), the former municipal recreation director, filed for mayor.[30] Newer said that had he been elected he would have tried to strengthen municipal financial growth." I will continue our attempts to lower the electrical rates by all means possible. We must continue our effort to attract new industry and business to our area," he said.​

Newer lost to businessman Terry Gardner, a former Democrat turned Republican, originally from Shreveport. He is married to the former Deborah Ann "Debbie" Walker (born May 19, 1957).[31] Gardner ran unsuccessfully for the District 4 city council seat in 2014, having been defeated, 64 to 36 percent, by fellow Republican, Mike Toland, who vacated the seat on December 31, 2018. Gardner ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat in two previous city council races, in 2003 against Drew White and in the 2006 race against Davis. Gardner said that he opposes increasing fees and taxes and would if elected instead seek to upgrade the municipal infrastructure through the hiring of a full-time grant writer, who will pursue revenues from outside sources.[31]

In a campaign characterized primarily by aggressive use of yard signs, Gardner emerged from the primary victorious over Newer by 37 votes: 2,164 to 2,127. Turnout was 53.7 percent of registered voters.[32]

Personal life

A native of Stephens in Ouachita County in south Arkansas, Davis graduated in 1960 from Stephens High School. Prior to becoming mayor, Davis had been involved in several Minden businesses. He has three children, Scott Patrick Davis (born September 12, 1966), Stanley Paul Davis (born January 25, 1968), and Suzanne Davis Burkett (born March 25, 1972), from his first marriage to the former Vernie Bryan (1943-1996),[33] daughter of Floyd Thomas Bryan (1903-1956) and Mercie Mae Bryan (1907-2010) of Stephens, Arkansas.[34] Vernie Davis was a teacher at Minden High School and later the private Glenbrook School in Minden. The Davises lived for twelve years in Fort Smith, Arkansas, before they returned to Minden in the late 1970s. She is interred at Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Minden.[35]

Scott Davis resides in Alexander, a small town near Little Rock, Arkansas. Scott's brother, Stanley Davis, a Minden native living in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, is retired from the United States Air Force. He was the featured speaker at the annual Independence Day flag raising ceremony at Eagle Park in Minden in 2018.​ A two-time squadron commander, his most recent service was as commander for the Air Force Reserve's 317th Airlift Squadron in Charleston, South Carolina. He entered the Air Force in 1986 through a Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, at which he was a vice commandant award winner . He was named one of only ten cadets nationwide for an AFROTC Cadet Exchange Program with the Royal Air Force in Great Britain.[36] The Davis daughter, Suzanne Burkett, resides in the small community of Avery in Red River County, Texas.​

After Vernie's death, Davis subsequently married the former Nelda Joy Ward Hensley (born August 28, 1946), the widow of Jimmy Keith Hensley (1947-1991), who is interred at Arlington Cemetery[37] in Homer in Claiborne Parish.[38]

Davis is a long-term Minden businessman and real estate broker. He is a member of the First Baptist Church of Minden, as had been Mayor Robertson.​

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Tommy Davis sworn in as Minden's mayor", The Minden Press-Herald, November 6, 2013, p. 1.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Election results. Louisiana Secretary of State (December 6, 2014). Retrieved on December 6, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 City of Minden, List of Mayors Since 1888.
  4. Webster: Mayor City of Minden, October 19, 2013. lasos.blob.core.windows.net. Retrieved on October 19, 2013.
  5. Less than half of registered voters cast ballot for Minden mayor. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on October 23, 2013.
  6. Webster Parish primary election returns, September 30, 2006. staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved on October 19, 2013.
  7. Minden Herald, May 16, 1952, p. 1.
  8. Minden mayor picks successor before his death: Bill Robertson wants Tommy Davis as interim. The Shreveport Times, July 1, 2013. Retrieved on July 2, 2013.
  9. 9.0 9.1 KEEL Radio, Shreveport, Louisiana, July 11, 2013.
  10. "Councilman Tommy Davis announces mayoral bid", Minden Press-Herald, July 19, 2013.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Minden, La. will elect first new mayor in 20 years, October 10, 2013. KTBS-TV (ABC in Shreveport). Retrieved on October 15, 2013.
  12. Vickie Welborn (August 16, 2014). Minden is 'open' for business. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on November 16, 2014.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Chad Odom tapped as executive director of WEDCo.. Minden Press-Herald (December 16, 2016). Retrieved on December 19, 2016.
  14. Election Results for 11/4/2014. Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved on November 5, 2014.
  15. Harold Ray "Boe" Cook (1925-1997). findagrave.com. Retrieved on December 30, 2014.
  16. "Former Cotton Valley Mayor Dies at Age 97", Minden Press, July 28, 1955, p. 1.
  17. Bonnie Culverhouse. Tommy Davis wins full term as Minden mayor. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on December 8, 2014.
  18. Pat Culverhouse. Odom: Keep pushing Minden forward. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on December 8, 2014.
  19. Pattie Odom terminated as Economic and Downtown Development Director. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on December 30, 2014.
  20. Vickie Welborn (December 30, 2014). Minden mayor fires downtown development director. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on December 31, 2014.
  21. Vickie Welborn (January 21, 2015). Minden searches for economic development director. The Shreveport Times. Retrieved on January 22, 2015.
  22. Bonnie Culverhouse (January 8, 2015). Minden City Council denies Odom's appeal of termination. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on January 9, 2015.
  23. Bonnie Culverhouse. City must await legislation before appointing downtown board, director. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on March 12, 2015.
  24. Michelle Bates. New Economic Development Director Excited to Get to Work. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on August 7, 2015.
  25. Bruce Franklin (July 28, 2017). New city budget almost complete. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on July 28, 2017.
  26. Michelle Bates (August 24, 2017). Looney prints donated to City of Minden. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on August 25, 2017.
  27. Caleb Daniel (July 13, 2018). Coming Together in Minden. The Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on July 14, 2018.
  28. David Specht (September 5, 2018). City passes $33.3 million budget. The Minen Press-Herald. Retrieved on September 9, 2018.
  29. Caleb Daniel (July 18, 2018). Election time again. The Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on July 19, 2018.
  30. Newer announces mayoral bid. The Minden Press-Herald (June 29, 2018). Retrieved on July 18, 2018.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Gardner announces Minden mayoral bid. The Minden Press-Herald (July 16, 2018). Retrieved on July 18, 2018.
  32. Election Returns. Louisiana Secretary of State (November 6, 2018). Retrieved on November 7, 2018.
  33. Death Records: Vernie B. Davis. death-record.com. Retrieved on October 19, 2013.
  34. Floyd Thomas Bryan. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on July 28, 2017.
  35. Vernie Davis obituary, Minden Press-Herald, October 28, 1996, p. 1.
  36. Davis to speak at flag-raising ceremony on Independence Day. Minden Press-Herald (July 3, 2018). Retrieved on July 5, 2018.
  37. Jimmy Keith Hensley. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on July 28, 2017.
  38. Marvin T. Davis. usa-people-search.com. Retrieved on October 19, 2013.

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