Former Mayor Rogers will challenge Snapp in Walnut Ridge election

In a fiery interview, Rogers went after Mayor Charles Snapp for lawsuits, liquor, and more

WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – It doesn’t take long listening to former Walnut Ridge Mayor J.R. Rogers, now seeking the office yet again, to know why he’s the 2018 Arkansas Country Music Awards Promoter of the Year.

“No more lawsuits” Rogers enthusiastically said Friday evening to NEA Report. “No more raising taxing. He’s (current-Mayor Charles Snapp) got us in all these lawsuits. He’s got alcohol on Main Street of Walnut Ridge and these are all things I’m against.”

Rogers has filed to run for mayor of Walnut Ridge, Lawrence County Clerk Tina Stowers confirmed. The incumbent mayor, Snapp, has filed for reelection as well. NEA Report has reached out to him for an interview prior to the election. This sets up a showdown between the two figures who have many years of documented tensions between the two, including a previous election.

“I beat him three to one the last time he ran against me,” Rogers said.

Over the past several years, much has been made in the news of efforts by the City of Walnut Ridge to condemn properties owned by or connected to Rogers. While Rogers worked on repairs, he was stopped by city inspectors because Snapp said he did not have a proper permit. Rogers said he never bothered to try starting repairs on the others since the city wouldn’t allow him to finish when he had tried. A lawsuit has been filed over this. Rogers describes the condemnation efforts as a personal vendetta by Snapp to hurt him. In previous conversations with this reporter, Snapp has denied this.

“I’m not going to be a mayor like him,” Rogers said. “When he gets done, he goes and belly ups at the bar at the pizza place. And he ain’t just drinking two. I assure you when he’s leaving, he’s had enough to be drunk. But do you think they’re going to pull him over? No. Just like I told you about the city employee with a truck that has no tags on it. It’s unbelievable what he gets away with.”

Rogers mentioned lawsuits against the city as a campaign issue. In addition to the condemnation suit, a lawsuit is pending over a railroad worker who was unjustly detained and roughed up. Following that, the worker attempted to file a complaint and was written tickets by then-police chief Chris Kirksey, who resigned after his methods became public. Public records obtained by NEA Report showed Snapp reviewed the video and found only the “F-word” to be offensive in the behavior by the officer, keeping him on the force. Since then, the story has been covered by national media including the Washington Post. 

During the backlash from that, another lawsuit was born out of city officials deleting Facebook comments on government pages of angry citizenry, including a Fort Smith couple who are also lawyers. 

“That bad officer was hired with knowledge the had already had charges of physical violence against him,” Rogers said, describing the officer’s arrest record. “They had all known he had problems before he got to be an officer. The bad part is, he was a bad cop. The real bad part is how they treated him after he come down there to file a complaint and the cover up of the whole thing.”

The economics are also an issue Rogers is focusing on. He’s worried Walmart, which is the city’s largest sales tax contributor, might leave the community.

“Walmart just left Corning,” Rogers said. “Corning is 30 miles from the nearest Walmart. Walnut Ridge is 12 miles from the nearest Supercenter. If he keeps on like he’s going, they’ll pack up and close. People will go from Black Rock to Pocahontas to the Supercenter. Snapp ain’t a very good business man because he’s never been in business.”

Rogers wants to stop raising taxes. One way he said he would save money is by not taking a salary. He said this would save as much as $300,000.

“I had a person say we will no longer shop in Walnut Ridge to pay for their sewer,” Rogers said. “That’s what people told me and I’m sure they’re not alone.”

Rogers said he has the resume for the job. In addition to literally having had the job in the 1990s, he is the business owner behind All Star Music, Sound, and Lighting. He also is a former Democratic member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for the 73rd district, from 2005 to 2011. He was ineligible to run for reelection because of term limits.

“I’ve helped all these communities Stan,” Rogers said. “When I was the mayor, I was the go-to-guy to help everyone in the area. I’m a hard worker.”

Rogers was the first candidate to make himself available for interview. We have reached out to Mayor Snapp for a similar conversation about the issues his campaign will focus on and once we receive a response, we shall link it here.

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