GOSHEN, Ark — A number of communities across Arkansas will have new mayors come the new year. One of those is the city of Goshen. The mayor-elect has big plans and he’s making history.
“I'm invested in the community,” said Russell Stroud.
Russell Stroud is a third-generation Goshen resident, calling the small town in eastern Washington County home his whole life except for about a decade. He’s served as a street superintendent for the city, is a nurse practitioner, and recently ran for mayor.
“I know the community well because I've lived here for a long time. And I've been a part of the change. But I've also seen the change from a distance as well when I was away in California in New York,” he said.
He says Goshen used to be a farming community and remembers having 4H meetings in the same community building where he sits now.
With a population of about 2,300, Stroud says the city has transformed into more of a bedroom community.
“Most of the big farms that used to exist here have been bought and been developed." Stroud says there are still a few farms in the town though, including his own of about 58 acres.
And on November 8, this Goshen farmer was elected mayor.
Stroud has lots of plans for the city’s future like building a new city hall. Right now, the police department and city employees have to share the small city hall, making it very cramped and with no room for growth.
Stroud says he also plans to work on improving city streets and bridges and push for ARDOT to improve Highway 45.
“It's a bedroom community, but we also want to have restaurants, potentially maybe a grocery store in the future— things that are services that people don't have to drive all the way to Fayetteville to have but yet still keep it quaint and more like a rural community,” he said.
As he looks towards continued growth, Stroud is also making history. As far as we know, he is the first openly gay mayor in Arkansas.
“I feel like that I would have not thought that it would be possible when I was a kid here in 4H. Growing up in a small community like this, I think it's difficult to know what that's going to look like in 30 or 40 years,” he said.
He says times and people are changing and he doesn’t want to focus on himself but instead on the future of Goshen.
“I think that it didn't really play such a significant part in my election because I feel like people voted for me because they know my character. They know I'm an honest, genuine, straightforward person,” he said.
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