EUDORA, Ark. (03/10/20) — Mayor Tomeka Butler was sworn into office today. She took the oath of office at the Chamber of Commerce Bulding in Eudora.
She has become the first African American woman to become the mayor of Eudora.
Eudora residents elect first African American female Mayor
EUDORA, Ark. (03/04/2020) — History was made in the small town of Eudora. Registered voters elected their first African American Female Mayor, Tomeka Butler.
“I’m still on cloud 9, still excited,” Butler said. “I just want to be able to be a beacon of light and a beacon of hope for that next little girl who only dreams about making history.”
The mayor-elect faced off against Interim Mayor, Johnathan Patrick. Patrick was appointed as interim in October by the Eudora City Council. Then, a special election was called to vote in a permanent leader.
The Chicot County Clerk announced Butler received 324 votes in Tuesday’s primary elections. Patrick received 171 votes. Butler credits her campaign manager and the community for the win. She said garnering support through social media put her over the top.
“We were passionate about change. It’s 2020,” she said. “It’s time to have a clear vision as to where we want to go as a people.”
Butler is a 1995 graduate of Eudora High School. She was named as valedictorian of her class. After graduation, she studied at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and later found purpose in Dallas.
The mother of one decided to move back to Eudora in December 2018. Butler said many people questioned why she left a city filled with many opportunities to come back to a town with almost “nothing”.
“I realized there’s a lot of work to do here,” she said. “Part of my mission and part of my purpose is to come here and do the work that I know is set forth for me to do. I feel like the way for me to do that is to be the mayor of the city, be a leader, a servant leader and help the people get back to what we once knew.”
Her vision for the town made it all worth it. She sees the future quite like how it was when she was a little girl growing up in Eudora.
Butler recalled times where the community enjoyed walking downtown on Saturday’s and being a part of community gatherings.
“I want us to get back to the thriving community we once were,” she said. “People lost a sense of hope and pride. I understand the morale is low because we have nothing here to look forward to but I also stress in order for us to grow we have to be mindful of what we do have, take care of what we have and more will be added.”
Butler plans to speak with department heads and other local officials once she’s sworn in to get to know them and see what their roles and responsibilities are.
Her top priorities while serving as the mayor is focusing on the police and fire departments, finding another grocery store and solving the community’s water issues that have plagued the town for years. She says these are “real-life issues” that the community in particular want addressed.
“We have a group that we’re working with to aid in getting a grocery store here,” she said. “With our fire department we’re working with the fire chief in Dermott who has one of the best fire departments in southeast Arkansas. He’s willing to work with us in getting our group well-trained and well-equipped.”
She also plans to continue seeking counsel from other police departments to help with some of the issues they’re facing within their department.
Some in the community believe Butler’s lack of political experience will not move the town forward. Those fighting for her believe she’s more than capable.
“She’s a people person, very bright and intelligent. I feel like she will surround herself with people with a wealth of information and knowledge that will be able to help her and guide her with her decision making,” Elijah Jackson said.
Jackson and others that voted for Butler believes she can be the change agent the community desperately needs.
“She’s an inspiration of change,” Jackson said. “With a different person, with a different vision, with different ideas, maybe that’s the change the city can bounce back on.”
Her supporters say she’s transparent and honest. Butler describes herself as a people person who is passionate about whatever she puts her heart into. She hopes those that don’t support will rally behind the vision of making Eudora thrive again.