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PICAYUNE PEOPLE: Meadowlakes Mayor Mark Bentley the ‘write’ man for the job

Meadowlakes Mayor Mark Bentley

Meadowlakes Mayor Mark Bentley waves to a neighbor from his backyard as a Picayune photographer tries to get him to pose for a photo. Staff photo by Brigid Cooley

Each week, Meadowlakes Mayor Mark Bentley contemplates what topics to include in his column, “The Mayor’s Corner,” which is published in the city’s weekly community newsletter. What could end up a snooze, Bentley manages to make engaging and entertaining, lacing his words with humorous anecdotes and witty remarks while delivering important information.

“If there’s a dry way to say something or a clever way, I’m going to go with the clever option,” said the 72-year-old.

For example in the Sept. 1 newsletter, he wrote about a conversation he had with the new chef at Hidden Falls Bistro and Bar. 

“I am on record as advocating coupons,” he wrote. “When you are a 14-year-old boy, you fall in love with girls (and vice versa). When you reach 60, you fall in love with coupons.”

In another editor, he wrote about a community discussion on hiring a police force and then an art and wine show planned in the area. 

“Some of you may see it as a fitting alternative to the opening of the college football season,” he wrote.

A native Texan, Bentley spent most of his adolescent years in Corpus Christi. During his childhood, he lived with his parents, Hank and Catherine, and his seven siblings in an on-site residence at the Sunoco refinery, where his father worked. A science- and math-minded person by nature, Bentley gives credit for his writing abilities and sense of humor to his father, whom he considered a role model.

“(My dad) was a good writer,” Bentley said. “He wrote a column for the refinery to keep everyone informed. I guess I took after him.”

After high school graduation, Bentley pursued a degree in chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He met his wife, Pat, in college. He spent the first years of his career in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but moved back to Texas in 1980 to work for Exxon Mobil until his retirement in 2011.

The Bentleys moved to Meadowlakes from the Houston area in 2014 after building a house on a city lot that’s large enough to accommodate visits from their growing family, which includes three grown daughters and 11 grandchildren. They quickly fell in love with the gated community and all of its added amenities, such as the Hidden Falls Golf Club.

“I like the quietness of it here,” he said. “There’s nice courtesy and hospitality. I think the people here are also really sharp. Plus, we’re closer to longhorn country.”

In their free time, the couple travels both domestically and internationally to interesting places, such as St. Petersburg and Gozo, a Mediterranean island near Malta.

“It’s a postponed satisfaction,” Bentley laughed. “We didn’t get to do a whole lot of traveling when we were raising our kids.”

They are currently planning trips to South America and Antarctica for next year.

Pursuing a position in city government wasn’t on Bentley’s radar until he began receiving gentle nudges from neighbors who recognized his active participation in community events.

“There were some people who came up to me and said, ‘You’d be a good (mayor),’” Bentley explained. “(Running) was totally because of outside influence. I didn’t do it because I thought there was a problem with how the city was run or to bring a big issue to the table.”

His campaign was planned for May 2020 but was thrown off course when elections were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. During that time, Bentley’s opponent dropped out of the race, resulting in City Council members unanimously appointing Bentley to the position in November.

Since then, Bentley has helped oversee city improvements and projects, the most notable being his role in acquiring a new operator for Hidden Falls Bistro and Bar, the golf club’s restaurant. Although he is still adjusting to his newfound political career, Bentley finds satisfaction in the duties that come with being mayor.

“There’s something to knowing you have responsibility,” he said. “You realize that you’re the guy and (residents) are not going to look to anyone else for solutions. What’s been comforting is people coming up and saying I’m doing a good job.”