A Branson business owner will run for mayor in the April municipal election.
Larry Milton, owner of Branson Tourism Center and several other businesses, filed Monday morning to challenge incumbent Mayor Raeanne Presley.
“I own several businesses here in Branson,” Milton said. “Over the past year, especially, I’ve sat down with several other business owners who have expressed disappointment with the direction we’re going.”
Milton said he’s running because he hopes to make a difference, especially with the economy.
“Initially, I would be focused on the economics of our city,” he said. “I’m concerned about our core industry — the entertainment industry.”
Milton said he believes entertainment and tourism is still the engine that drives the community.
He ran for mayor of Branson 10 years ago, in 2003, but was not successful. He has not run for any other public office since then, he said.
Milton has lived in Branson for 20 years, and has owned Branson Tourism Center for the last 10.
He’s also been active with bringing veterans events, like the annual Purple Heart event, to Branson.
Milton is, as of Tuesday morning, the only challenger to Presley.
Presley is seeking a fourth term. She was first elected in 2007.
“Larry called me yesterday to say he was going to run against me,” Presley said. “I was kind of surprised. (He) supported my initial run for mayor.”
Presley said she’s run races before, and she believes the process is good for Branson residents.
“I’ve been humbled and honored to serve as mayor,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to serving another term and asking people for their vote.”
Presley said she’s also worked to improve the local economy and continues to do so.
“If you look at the past few years, I think we’ve laid a wonderful foundation,” she said. “We’ve got our Community Plan 2030 and the Strategic Plan, and the board has been judicious with its use of taxpayer dollars.”
She also noted the city’s plans to revitalize 76 Country Boulevard and Historic Downtown as keys to economic growth, as well as expansions in health care and Ozarks Technical Community College, and the upcoming arrival of Southwest Airlines and the new Outlaw Run roller coaster at Silver Dollar City.
In addition to Branson Tourism Center, Milton owns Branson.com, Main Street Marina, Main Street Cruises and Branson Hills Realty.