The heart of a servant is special. He is the one who constantly places the needs of others above his own needs. Elaine Carr has such a heart and showed it during her tenure as the board of directors and mayor of West Siloam Springs.
Carr served as Ward Four from 1998 to 2021 and Mayor from 2003 to 2021. During her years of service, Carr served the Town of West Siloam Springs by meeting essential infrastructure needs like water and businesses. like Dollar General, Godfather’s Pizza and Love’s Country. Shop.
She also worked with the Cherokee Nation to help fund the city’s ambulance service and secure a new fire truck. Under Carr’s leadership, the Cherokee Nation also funded a new water tower for the city.
Carr was born in 1960 in Ventura, California. Her family moved to Stilwell, Oklahoma when she was still a baby. Carr believes it was because of work or to follow her grandparents, who moved to Stilwell before her parents, but doesn’t remember it. She described Stilwell as Small Town USA.
Carr used to help her parents pick strawberries in the summer. As a child, Carr enjoyed camping and playing outdoors.
“We spent a lot of time on Tenkiller Lake,” Carr said. “My father loved to go fishing.
Carr said she couldn’t go camping like she used to, but enjoys going fishing. While in high school, Carr worked at Stilwell Foods for two years, she said.
Shortly after graduating from high school in 1979, Carr went to work for Walmart in Stilwell. She started as a cashier then worked in the back of reception and finally as a department manager for housewares and school supplies.
Carr never won an award at Walmart, but she did have the distinction of meeting Sam Walton once. Carr described Walton as being down to earth. Walton told Carr about his dog and his van, she said.
Around 1987, Carr met her future husband Rodney Carr and married him a year later before moving to West Siloam Springs. At the time she moved to West Siloam Springs, Carr said the town had two convenience stores and a restaurant called Hickory House on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border.
Carr worked at her husband’s nightclub bar and collected a cover charge if they had a gig, Carr said.
Carr said it was easy to get into politics because in high school his class would take a section of the newspaper and talk about it. She thanks her husband for encouraging her to enter politics, Carr said. When she ran for office, Carr hoped to bring some growth to the community she called home.
Under his leadership, Carr helped bring businesses to West Siloam Springs and secured grants from the Cherokee Nation, she said. During her tenure as a trustee, she worked on grants, she said. Carr said he contacted Grand Gateway, an economic development association in Big Cabin, Okla.
Through this entity, she worked to acquire grants to help move the city forward, Carr said. For Carr, politics is not about power and position, but about serving the people it represented.
“You have to ask the good Lord to help you,” Carr said. “You have to do it for the city, not for yourself.”
Serve as mayor
Carr said being chosen as mayor was an honor.
“I was a little shocked, but I was on the board for a little while, so I had an idea,” Carr said.
As mayor, Carr came out and greeted people and worked with federal and state entities to ensure the city’s success.
Kris Kirk, CPA, who is an accountant for West Siloam Springs, said he didn’t think he had met someone so committed to his city and local government.
“I think she was really an asset to the city and really missed by anyone who has anything to do with city government,” Kirk said.
Carr has accomplished a lot as mayor. She moved the city park from Pine Street to the land adjacent to City Hall, brought natural gas to West Siloam Springs, and worked with the South Delaware County Regional Water Authority (SDCRWA) to ensure the city has her own water service, she said.
One of Carr’s main accomplishments has been to ensure that no police officer worked alone on a shift, according to West Siloam Springs Police Chief Larry Barnett. Carr increased the police department’s budget to have two officers patrol per shift, Barnett said.
Carr has also worked to increase the sales tax on medical marijuana and online shopping, as well as to fight to make sure the city doesn’t lose its state tax on groceries, she declared.
Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Chuck Garrett said it was an honor to work with Carr on several projects during his tenure.
“Since Carr took office in 2003, she has worked diligently alongside many great community partners, including the Cherokee Nation and our businesses, to create new jobs, expand water, sewer and emergency, improve roads and increase economic development in West Siloam Springs. “said Garrett.
Over the years, Carr has been involved with the Oklahoma Municipal League (OML), the Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group (OMAG) and the Council of Mayors. In 2009, Carr was voted mayor of the year for people under 5,000 and in 2017, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame for city administrators, she said. declared.
“He’s a very hardworking person, very sweet and kind,” said Kay Hunt, communications director for OML.
Hunt said Carr has always recognized OML staff and was an excellent representative of West Siloam Springs and the state of Oklahoma.
Carr said the most valuable lesson she learned as mayor was to listen to people.
“It’s who gets you elected to the board and you have to listen to the people in your town,” Carr said.
Working with the State
When Carr was voted mayor of the year, she didn’t know what the OML was doing, so she went to every class and learned about the organization. The time spent helped Carr sort out the state’s problems, she said. Carr learned to work both sides of the aisle and met a lot of interesting people along the way.
During her tenure as mayor, Carr had the opportunity to meet former Vice President Mike Pence and former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who recently announced that she is running for governor. of Arkansas.
Jamie Smith, the OML’s member services representative and legislative specialist, has known Carr for 15 years and has become a close friend, Smith said.
“She was a great advocate for West Siloam Springs and northeastern Oklahoma,” Smith said.
Carr began working with the Oklahoma Council of Mayors around 2010 to represent the First District. During her tenure on council, she attended conferences and worked to improve her city and region, Carr said.
Although she may have retired from municipal government, Carr is not standing still. She still works for the post office as a letter carrier in Siloam Springs and serves as the liaison between West Siloam Springs and the state of Oklahoma. The post is unofficial and is Carr’s way of helping her city.
The state legislature is currently out of session, but Carr said she regularly receives emails from U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). Carr said marijuana and teacher pay will be two ongoing issues at the state level and that with the recent McGirt v Oklahoma Supreme Court case in July of last year, new federal tribal laws have come into effect. . Carr did not specify what it was.
One project Carr is still working on is the creation of a four-lane highway between West Siloam Springs and Sallisaw, Okla.
Carr said that since her retirement she has been able to enjoy some free time. In addition to working at the post office, Carr helps her husband with the mini golf course and the two have taken a train ride from Springdale to Van Buren.
Although Carr does not work in any local organization, she still sits on the Oklahoma Hall of Fame for Towns and Towns. Carr plans to attend a session on marijuana on September 8-9 and will attend the OML conference where prizes will be presented to last year’s winners.
“We meet twice a year,” Carr said. “We’re talking about funding. We’re reviewing applicants in July. There are qualifications you need to meet. It’s a short meeting.”
Carr encourages people to attend city council meetings and see what’s going on in their city. She also encourages everyone to run for public office at least once.
“I wish we had more women like Elaine Carr in this world,” Smith said. “It would be a better world.”
Photo submitted Several Oklahoma mayors reunite with Elaine Carr (front row, fourth from right), in 2017 at her husband’s mini-golf and event center for the state’s annual gathering of mayors. Oklahoma mayors typically meet annually to discuss ways to improve their communities and new state policies.
Photo Submitted Elaine Carr is all smiles as she poses with her Mayor of the Year award for people under 5,000. Carr won the award in 2009 and considers it a great honor.