Happiness is ... Changing the Mayor's Mind

Even Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz couldn't have scripted this scenario
by | June 2001

Even Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz couldn't have scripted this scenario.

For the past 11 years, John Patrick has served as mayor of Pocahontas, Arkansas. Having won reelection in 1998 with 80 percent of the vote, he was fairly confident of his popularity. But he found out just how much the town liked him only after he decided to resign.

A gall-bladder operation, 80-hour workweeks and a few small construction-related disputes had left the 66-year-old Patrick tired and fed up with the job of mayor. In March, he decided to gather his top department heads and inform them that he was stepping down.

Word travels fast in Pocahontas (population 7,000), and the next day, Patrick was inundated with well-wishers, begging him to keep his job. Community leaders flocked to his office, some with tears in their eyes. A friend drove 50 miles to try to persuade him to stay. But what really tipped the scales was a group of youngsters from the local dinner theater. The children caught up with the mayor as he was eating his regular lunch at the Taco Casa restaurant, and performed the song "Just One Person" from the musical "Snoopy."

As the lyrics go, "It stands to reason that you yourself will start to see what everybody sees in you." By 1 p.m., when he had planned to announce his resignation to the council, Patrick had changed his mind. "It's hard to quit when you've got citizens that are behind you that much," he said. "It just blowed my mind."

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Anya Sostek | Former Correspondent | asostek@gmail.com