Mayor Harold Perrin on Why Other Communities Are Trying to Keep Up With Jonesboro

Mayor Harold Perrin on Why Other Communities Are Trying to Keep Up With Jonesboro
Harold Perrin 
Mayor of Jonesboro

Harold Perrin, a former banker and management consultant, was elected to his third four-year term as mayor of Jonesboro in November 2016. Before becoming mayor, he served for 15 years on the Jonesboro City Council.

Perrin is a graduate of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and previously served on its board of trustees.

The addition of new fire stations has allowed Jonesboro to attain a Class 1 rating since Perrin became mayor in 2009.

What’s the most exciting development happening in Jonesboro right now?
Growth in every direction. We are wrapping up $1 billion in capital improvements in the medical community, including St. Bernards and NEA Baptist hospitals, as well as the new osteopathic medicine school on the Arkansas State University campus. Our population hits new records daily. We’ve managed to grow at a pace of three new residents a day for several years now, and new jobs, new neighborhoods and new neighbors are the reward.

What is your city’s biggest challenge?
Deciding on how we grow, and maintaining the balance of new and modern with our down-home Southern charm. We are fortunate to have more people invested — emotionally and financially — in Jonesboro than ever before. We now have a diverse population with divergent goals, and we have to prioritize the things we want first, second and so on.

Do you see a dry-to-wet initiative in Craighead County’s future or are people content with the status quo?
A group studied that recently and determined now is not the time to push an election that would bring package stores and access to alcoholic beverages beyond our restaurants and bars. Those who enjoy a drink have 54 restaurants or bars to choose from, so I don’t know that packaged alcohol is a priority at this time.

Jonesboro’s population has been growing while most of the Delta is losing residents. What are the advantages and disadvantages to Jonesboro’s location?
I think the past decade has entrenched Jonesboro as the hub of northeast Arkansas. We meet all the critical needs of the region: health, job opportunity, higher education — not to mention entertainment and shopping. I’m sure a lot of our new residents are people from around the region who needed those opportunities, or simply wanted to be part of a larger city. Others move here because they don’t want the costs or crime associated with even larger cities. So we offer different advantages to different people.

You’ve been mayor for more than nine years. What are the most rewarding parts of the job? What are the most frustrating?
The rewards are plentiful because I’m blessed to be mayor of the city I love. The opportunity to help steer it in the direction that our residents, and our city of Jonesboro employees, envision for the future is something I love every day. We have a wonderful staff that is upward of 600 strong, and they are smart, dedicated Jonesboro residents. We have a lot of civic engagement in the community and at our council meetings. The residents tell us what they want; our staff finds ways to make it happen. So our infrastructure is sound, our police and fire departments make it safe, our university keeps us forward-thinking, as well as forward-moving, and together we all bring it to life.

The only frustration is we can’t snap our fingers and make something happen. It takes time, and I don’t like to wait.