Independent candidates who lack the backing of political parties typically have a hard time gaining traction in partisan elections but that is not the case in Drew County.
A Democratic stronghold where candidates rarely run as an independent and only recently began seeing Republicans on the ballot, Drew County and its county seat, Monticello, apparently is becoming more independent in its political ideology.
Joe Rogers, the first independent candidate to be elected mayor of Monticello since the city began having partisan elections more than 30 years ago, took his oath of office Wednesday morning from Drew County Judge Robert Akin, the only independent county judge in Arkansas. Rogers is pictured above signing his oath of office while Akin looks on.
Rogers was elected mayor after defeating Zack Tucker, a Democrat, in a July 15 runoff election to complete the remaining five and a half months of the late mayor Allen Maxwell’s four-year term.
Rogers, along with Tucker, Dave Nugent, Sonny Thornhill and Jo Ann Trotter, will also be on the ballot in November for the upcoming 4-year term for mayor. All but Tucker filed as independents.
A former mayor of Monticello, Rogers previously ran as a Democrat. This time, however, he filed as an independent.
“I ran as an independent to make it clear that I will work for all citizens without regard for party affiliation,” Rogers said during his campaign.
Akin, who defeated the Democratic nominee and Republican nominee in the November 2012 county judge’s race and drew no opponent this year, made similar comments during his campaign.
“I want voters to know that I’m for the people, in any form,” he said. “Whether you’re a doctor or a laborer, a Democrat or a Republican, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m gonna represent you.”