For the first time in more than 50 years, voters in the City of Marion will receive a municipal election ballot next spring without the name Bob Butler on it.
Butler, who served as mayor for nearly 55 years, stepped down earlier this year for health reasons.
One of the candidates who wants to take over the post is businessman Mike Absher, who announced his candidacy Thursday. Absher says he doubts anyone can fill Butler's shoes, but he says cities evolve and residents change.
"There's an inherent opportunity there to maybe do some things differently. It doesn't necessarily mean Bob did anything the wrong way, but I think there's some new energy, of course, that could be had with anyone else that's there. But, I doubt very seriously anybody could ever do the job that Bob did."
The lifelong resident of Marion is the founder and CEO of Watermark Auto Group and president of the Marion School Board. He says Marion can grow its economy by recruiting more small businesses.
"I don't know that we'll ever land another big factory, like Aisin or something. We'll obviously still try for that. But, most of the jobs that are created in this country are small businesses. I don't believe we've really ever catered to that. So, I see an enormous opportunity there."
Absher says he'd also like to see the Marion Cultural and Civic Center and the Pavilion host more events.
Other candidates include Mayor Pro Tem Anthony Rinella, City Councilman Antonio Hightower as well as author and founder of the American Party of America, Dennis Ball.
The election will be in April 2019.