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Horton puts focus on downtown revitalization, economic development for mayor’s race

Donnie Horton has been considering running for mayor for about a year, after being approached about campaigning for the role about ten years ago.

“I got to looking at downtown, and it brought back a lot of memories. I thought, ‘I want to be a part of bringing this back to life,’” Horton said. “I’d like to see some things done to revitalize our downtown area – bring in more retail and improve our economic conditions in the whole community.”

Horton’s campaign cornerstones have been economic development, revitalizing downtown and economic growth and opportunity for young people.

A member of the Class of ’76 at Russellville High School, Horton managed the Russellville Family Dollar for 16 years and now works as store manager for Fred’s in Killen. He has aspirations of opening his own business in downtown Russellville.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of community activities over the years, and I really have a deep appreciation for the city,” he said. “I’d like to be able to be involved in making some changes that would benefit the entire community.”

Horton sat in on meetings about revitalization during Mayor John Blackwell’s tenure, and during his travels as manager of Family Dollar, he saw small downtowns like Russellville in 42 states across the nation – downtowns that had deteriorated but been brought back to life by local people, bringing with it an economic boom. “So that can be done here, but you’re going to have to have a mindset to know what you’re going to have to do,” Horton said, citing the importance of entertainment and retail. He remembers days gone by when Russellville was a hotspot for shopping, drawing customers from all over the area.

In industry, Horton wants to focus on bringing in higher tech and higher quality industries with better-paying jobs to attract young people to stay in this area. He said he has made it a point to talk to the young people of Russellville, like a group of youth who were hanging around in front of First Baptist Church one evening because “there’s no place to go. There’s nothing to do,” Horton said they told him. “And that’s true … We have nothing here for our young people, and that’s the reason they’re leaving us.”

Horton said his people skills and his work ethic are crucial skills he would bring to the mayor’s role if elected.

“I’m a people person, and I can communicate with people one-on-one or as a group because I have a sense of knowing what the situation may be and how to deal with people,” Horton said. “I’ll work hard. I’m a hard worker; I give 110 percent in everything I do.”

Horton has three children who all graduated from Belgreen High School: two sons, one of whom is a web developer and the other who just graduated from UNA, daughter who is pursuing her education degree at Athens State.

Horton is a former member of the Jaycees, worked with the Russellville Little League Association in the 1970s and is a member of Centerview Church of Christ in Franklin County for the past 26 years. He is also active in Russellville football and is a booster of the athletic programs – “that’s one of the biggest things we need to continue to sell.”

“I will be there for the people,” Horton said. “I’ve worked hard all my life to achieve success … I will do my best to help people in every way possible. And I’m impartial; I’ll shoot straight. I won’t promise anybody anything I can’t deliver.”