Ed Thicksten has announced his candidacy for mayor of the City of Alma.

Thicksten is campaigning on the theme “Up with Alma,” which he described as an effort “to make Alma the best small city in Arkansas to live, work and play.”

“I want our city to thrive and prosper, and I pledge to be a full-time mayor with a transparent administration,” Thicksten said.

Thicksten will work toward creating the Alma Industrial Park and a technology and business center with the goal of creating job opportunities that will provide children with employment in their hometown, he said.

Thicksten is serving his second term as the Alma Area Chamber of Commerce board president. He has served on the board for the past five years and been a member since its inception in the 1980s, he said. He also is president of Thicksten Enterprises, which has included retail, real estate and farms for 45 years.

For more than three years, Thicksten has made efforts to bring LED street lights to the City of Alma. He worked with OGE and the Arkansas Public Service Commission on the project, then addressed the Alma City Council and the current mayor for approval. The LED lights will be installed along U.S. 64 and 71, with construction set to begin this fall, Thicksten said.

“The LEDs will be far brighter than the few lights we currently have,” Thicksten said. “Not only will they save money, but they will be much safer for pedestrians, and pull traffic off of the interstate, bringing business to our local entrepreneurs.”

Alma may be the first city to get the LED lights, Thicksten said.

“We’re going to be the first in OGE territory, we know that,” Thicksten said.

Thicksten has worked the last four years on bringing the Wayfinder sign program to Alma and the surrounding River Valley area. The program will begin before the beginning of the new year.

Thicksten also is excited about the prospect of completing Interstate 49, noting that Alma would become the location of one of the busiest interstate highway intersections in this part of the country.

“With proper planning and implementation this will be an economic boost to Alma and the region,” Thicksten said.

Representing Alma and Crawford County for 24 years in the Arkansas General Assembly, Thicksten served his last term as a state representative in 1999.

During his tenure, one of his focuses was equalizing funding for education. He was instrumental in promoting Westark Community College, now the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, to become a four-year university.

Another of his initiatives as a state representative was sponsoring victim’s rights legislation, which became a national model.

Thicksten has a long history of community involvement. He served more than 18 years on the Crawford County Farm Bureau board, has been a long-time supporter of Stepping Stone School, is a former member of the Crawford Memorial Hospital board, is a past president of the Alma Lions Club and the Crawford County Fair board, and currently serves as a volunteer at the Alma Community Outreach Center.

Thicksten also served as the Alma Rotary Club President for two years and chairman of the Alma Visionary Committee. He is a 60-year member of the Alma United Methodist Church and is past board chairman.

“I look forward to serving the community that I love and hope to continue to bring Alma forward throughout my tenure as the future mayor,” Thicksten said.

Thicksten’s wife Sandra Thicksten, formerly Futral, a retired teacher with the Alma School District. They have two children, Regina Thicksten of Conway, who works for a non-profit organization in Little Rock, and Chris Thicksten of Bentonville, who is self-employed. Chris is married to the former Mary Jo Wilmot, and they have two children, Mary Elizabeth, 6, and Edward Hays, 18 months.

Thicksten is the son of Lorene Thicksten of Alma and the late Dr. Jack Thicksten.