NLR: Second city no more. 

click to enlarge HUCKABEE'S NLR HOME

Well, what do you know! North Little Rock now has state politicians and maybe a president living there. I’ve lived in the town since I was 5 years old, so believe me that we never had any before.

After 10 years, Mike Huckabee has left the governor’s office in the state Capitol and his beautiful Governor’s Mansion just off Broadway in Little Rock, and moved to an attractive, five-bedroom, three-car garage, $525,000 house at 1134 Silverwood Trail. If you haven’t seen this neighborhood called Shady Valley, you’ve missed something because it’s maybe the fanciest in the city. (You turn west off John F. Kennedy Boulevard a short distance from Sherwood, which shows the ignorance of North Little Rock politicians who failed to put that growing assemblage into a part of North Little Rock rather than letting it become a town in 1948 when it had only 714 residents.)

Also, in November, Arkansas voters decided that the new lieutenant governor should be Bill Halter, who was born in North Little Rock. He lived there until he went to college, became a Rhodes Scholar, traveled the world and worked for the government in Washington for years. Now, he’s again living in North Little Rock with his wife and new baby. Halter is 45 years old and probably will run for governor in years to come.

I was almost certain the city had never had such prominent politicians, but to be sure, I asked Casey Laman, the best-known mayor of North Little Rock. He said no governor or lieutenant governor had lived in the city. Did he ever think of running for governor or some other office? “Never,” he said. “I just wanted to be the town’s mayor.” And he was mayor starting in 1958 for 16 years and was the man who turned North Little Rock into a real city.

Many North Little Rock people are pleased that Huckabee is living in their town. Often when we didn’t have much to say at the North Little Rock Rotary Club meetings, some of the members would compliment Huckabee as being one of the best governors in Arkansas history. Though a quirk of circumstance, he did manage to hold the office for 10 years, though governors now are limited to election to two four-year terms. (He finished Jim Guy Tucker’s unexpired term because he was then lieutenant governor.) And he did have some accomplishments, such as improving our public schools. That and his humor and Baptist-preacher viewpoint had made him a governor known throughout the country.

Most of Arkansas’s governors didn’t pay much attention to NLR, but Huckabee was always willing to come to North Little Rock to make a speech, give a prize or ride in a parade.

Everyone knows, of course, that Huckabee is from Hope, the same town where former President Clinton was born, and neither of them paid any attention to Little Rock or North Little Rock until they began to run for governor. In fact, looking through some books and old newspapers, I discovered that none of the 44 governors was born in Little Rock and few even lived there very long, except as governor.

Only a few had any connection with Little Rock before they started campaigning. Here are three of the governors who did: Jim Guy Tucker, born in Oklahoma, who went to elementary school when his parents moved to Little Rock; Homer Adkins, born in Jacksonville; who went to public schools in Little Rock and Frank White, born in Texarkana, who stopped being a Navy pilot at age 21 and came to Little Rock to marry a girl who lived there.




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