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Mayor Marc Benton plans Anderson’s future

June 07, 2023 - 00:00
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ANDERSON - Newly elected Anderson Mayor, Marc Benton, sees the potential of the small town he considers his “forever home.”

Before Anderson, Virginia was his home for 25 years. During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, he searched for a change of scenery. Small town Anderson caught his attention, so he packed his bags and made the move. He quickly fell in love with the area and decided he wanted to remain there for the rest of his life.

Since moving to Anderson, Benton has taken an interest in local politics. He served on town council for a year, before grasping the opportunity to run for mayor. Benton was the lone candidate on the May ballot after Karen McDuffie announced she was not seeking reelection. He was sworn-in May 16. Although he hadn’t run for office before moving to Anderson, he always valued community service and was involved in several programs including Boy Scouts.

Assessments and goals Bringing economic prosperity while protecting the town’s cultural identity is Benton’s ultimate goal.

The decline in population is concerning for Benton. A town that has historically supported ranchers, this has changed as less farmers are around. He said the current business offerings on Main Street aren’t enough to meet the needs of these changes.

“One of the areas I want to focus on is Main Street,” said Benton. The current industry in Anderson is government, but Benton feels the town needs to pivot towards tourism. Benton explained people will drive by, see the courthouse, then move on. He said Main Street needs more attractions and shops for tourists to encourage them to spend more time and money in town.

To promote the city for tourism, the Town of Anderson YouTube channel was started. The hope is to release a video a minimum of once a month.

While Benton is pushing for growth, there is a limit to how large he believes the town should be, saying a maximum population of 250 citizens is acceptable. Keeping Anderson as the jewel in Grimes County while maintaining its culture is important to Benton. In his former home of Reston, Virginia, he witnessed the city get overtaken as the D.C. metro grew. When this happened, Reston was no longer a place he recognized culturally. He wants to ensure the same doesn’t happen to Anderson.

Focus on infrastructure Benton is proud of the city’s effort to help infrastructure without burdening citizens. Last year, he motioned for increased sewage rates so money could be used to repair and maintain the sewage plant. To offset that increase, he said the rate for property taxes was lowered.

With an IT background, Benton sees the need for broadband internet and improving the towns file sharing systems to embrace a digital focus to make management easier. “One of the big issues for Anderson is broadband internet,” said Benton. For his own work, the current internet is barely enough, and he is looking over several options to bring fiber to Anderson.

He also hopes within the next year that the town’s website can be overhauled stating the website needs a stronger focus on promoting business, discussing economic development, travel information and promoting historical areas to increase tourism.

Cohesive effort

Benton said the town council has brough a wealth of experience to the table and are great people to work with overall.

Having an awesome team behind him is beneficial as he navigates his duties to Anderson. He said councilmembers have an array of backgrounds that are invaluable to helping the town. Benton is also grateful to the town’s clerk for being “the keeper of knowledge,” and helping him in the transition. “This town would not operate without Pam Johnson,” he explained.

The potential of the town is evident; however, Benton understands there is a process. He is looking forward to working alongside town council and receiving community input as the town moves forward.