Fourth Ward Alderman Steven Mays, an ordained minister, figures that faith may be the most important tool in “rebuilding Pine Bluff.”
Speaking to the West Pine Bluff Rotary Club on Thursday, Mays said that residents must “come together” in the effort by focusing on God and not skin color or a comparison or social and financial statuses.
“We need to pray and ask God to help us,” said Mays, who will soon begin his third year as a council member. “We must lay aside our personal differences and walk in unison. City leaders must work together.”
Mays said he has long lived by a philosophy that to enjoy success, people need to “stay true to God” so He’ll “guide their path.” Additionally, he believes people should dedicate their energy to taking advantage of opportunities where they are and not elsewhere.
“We have everything we need to start rebuilding Pine Bluff by faith,” he said. “Our citizens are our greatest asset.”
Mays said he dreamed as a teenager of becoming an alderman. He said he was inspired by the late Alderman Levert Blunt Jr.
“I read about him, and he was a doer and not just a talker,” Mays said of Blunt. “I told him that I wanted to serve as an alderman just like he was doing, and he encouraged me. Being an alderman is an opportunity every day.”
A Pine Bluff Arsenal employee, Mays is a proponent of “setting goals,” a practice that he maintains “will keep you focused.” He said faith opens a person’s mind to achievement, and that’s a big reason why he strives to consistently offer encouragement to others. And he relishes being boosted by others in the process.
He said residents’ trust in one another is a primary motivating factor. Referencing the city’s past accomplishments and positive national image, he said many of the city’s current woes began when “at one point, citizens stopped working together” and individual agendas were put ahead of a collective sense of community.
“And you’ve seen where that’s gotten us,” he said.
He boasted of the city’s transportation infrastructure, historic downtown district and ongoing growth at The Pines shopping mall, and called the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff a “gold mine” of education. He also mentioned Southeast Arkansas College.
We need to keep our high school and college graduates here so they can help ensure an enhanced future.” Mays said. “Our youth and teenagers are crying out for help and we must respond to the call. We must be proper role models.”
Senior citizens are also in need of support, he said.
Noting the city’s “diversified” industrial and business climate, Mays said the city is capable of growth.
“We can make good things happen,” he said.