|Preceded by Robert Drew White|
Name Tommy Davis
Political party Republican
|Preceded by Joe Cornelius, Sr. (interim mayor)|
Born September 29, 1942 (age 73) Stephens, Ouachita County Arkansas, USA (1942-09-29)
Spouse(s) (1) Vernie Bryan Davis (died 1996) (2) Nelda Hensley Davis (born 1946)
Succeeded by Michael Scott Toland
Marvin Thomas Davis, known as Tommy Davis (born September 29, 1942), is the mayor of Minden in Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana. Davis was sworn into office on November 5, 2013, and elected to a full term on December 6, 2014.
A Republican, Davis handily won the special election held on October 19, 2013. He unseated interim Mayor Joe Cornelius, Sr., an African-American Democrat and the former Mayor Pro Tem and the former District A member of the Minden City Council. Cornelius had served since June 27 upon the death of Mayor Bill Robertson, the longest-serving mayor in Minden history. Robertson had assumed the office in January 1991.
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). 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.
Upon taking office as 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 Democrat Terry "TG" Gardner, 481 (58.1 percent) to 346 (41.8 percent). The council voted unanimously on November 5 to appoint another Republican businessman, Michael Scott "Mike" Toland (born September 1959), to fill Davis' council seat. Toland follows in the steps of his grandfather, Cecil C. Toland (1905-1976), an oil products distributor, who was elected to the city council in 1952. Gardner, a businessman and entrepreneur, was defeated again for the city council in the 2014 primary, this time by Mike Toland.
After Robertson's death, a letter which he had written while trying to recover from his 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. The Minden City Council, however, ignored Robertson's request and voted three-to-two along racial lines to elevate Cornelius as the interim mayor. On July 19, Davis announced that he would seek to fill through the special election the remaining months of Robertson's term.
In the campaign for mayor, Davis called for the creation of industrial jobs to enhance the spending capacity of the citizens. 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." Davis also urged that the city increase its electrical power grid and water storage capacity.
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."
Davis is only the third Republican elected mayor of Minden since 1966, the others having been Tom Colten and Paul A. Brown. The term extended for under fifteen months. 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. 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). Odom is the son of Webster Parish 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 from Webster Parish. Odom's maternal grandfather was Harold Rae "Boe" Cook (1925-1997), 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.
Davis prevailed in the runoff by 225 votes, 2,346 (52.5 percent) to Odom's 2,121 (47.5 percent). 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." ho
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." Chad Odom soon left Minden to become the economic development director for Port Lavaca, Texas. He later took the position as Executive Director of Wharton Economic Development Corporation a Type B Sales Tax Corporation in Wharton, Texas, beginning in January 2017.
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.'" Davis said that economic development work will continue in his administration even with the temporarily vacant position. 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.
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. The city cannot hire a new director until enabling legislation passes the legislature in Baton Rouge. State Representative Gene Reynolds of Webster Parish has 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. 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 is working to obtain land which businesses can immediately occupy upon their relocation to Minden. The focus will be on water, sewer, and electrical infrastructure, he said.
In 2017, Davis advanced a proposed annual municipal budget of $35,164,835 in revenues and $35,539,545 in expenses. The city will 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 plan to reconfigure water billings so that consumers will fall into one of four tiers based on usage.
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, will 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.
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. Davis has three children, Scott Patrick Davis, Stanley Paul Davis, and Suzanne Davis Burkett, from his first marriage to the former Vernie Bryan (1943-1996), daughter of Floyd Thomas Bryan (1903-1956) and Mercie Mae Bryan (1907-2010) of Stephens, Arkansas. Vernie Davis was a teacher at Minden High School and later the private Glenbrook School in Minden. She is interred at Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Minden. Stanley Davis is an officer in the United States Air Force stationed in Charleston, South Carolina.
After Vernie's death, Davis subsequently married the former Nelda Joy Ward Hensley (born August 1946), the widow of Jimmy Keith Hensley (1947-1991), who is interred at Arlington Cemetery in Homer in Claiborne Parish. 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.