Even though Joe Hurst is getting a little bit of a taste of what being the mayor of Van Buren will be like, he knows the work will really heat up beginning the first day of the new year.

That’s when he will officially be sworn in to take over the position he won over Max Blake in the Nov. 6 general election.

“I can’t wait to get started,” Hurst said after attending a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Pointer Place store, which opened last week at Van Buren High School. “I’m ready to get to work.”

Hurst, who spoke briefly at that ceremony, was in attendance earlier in the week, alongside current mayor Bob Freeman, at a ribbon cutting for Baptist Health-Van Buren. Hurst knows attending events like these is just a small part of the mayoral duties he’ll be expected to fulfill beginning Jan. 1.

And after serving as the city planner for Van Buren for eight years, he also knows keeping the city moving in an upward direction will be the top priority.

“Mayor Freeman made a lot of improvements,” Hurst said. “Working in the city like I have I see a lot of improvements he made that are visible and tangible. But there are so many intangible improvements that he made just in the way that the government works, the way city government operates … just so many great improvements. And all that is in place right now. So as the new mayor I want to add to those and continue to improve and not go backwards. He’s done a lot and I really appreciate that. I just want to build on that and continue to move Van Buren forward.”

Hurst, who garnered 3,262 votes to Blake’s 2,056, called the campaign a “positive experience” in that he was able to meet residents of the city and hear their recommendations and suggestions for ways to make Van Buren better.

“Just having the opportunity to go and speak to so many people in the community, the support I received, the ideas that were shared, just the amount of people who are willing to help and looking into the future of how we can improve Van Buren … it was just such an encouragement,” he said.

He said he was also excited to see the number of voters who came out to make their voice heard.

“When you run in a campaign you just want to win. That’s the ultimate goal,” he said. “So I’m excited with the turnout and I’m excited with the results. I’m just ready to start working and ready to move forward.”

Hurst did commend Blake for his desire to work for the citizens of Van Buren and hoped that others would follow that example as his office works to grow Van Buren.

"I appreciate (Blake's) desire to want to serve," he said. "I look forward to trying to get more and more people out to serve. I said throughout the campaign that we're only going to be as good as we can work together. The more we can get people involved the more the whole community feels like they're part of our city government the better. I'm going to spend a lot of time trying to get everyone involved, making sure we all work to more forward."