Among the coffee shops, stores and barber shops that dot Broadway Street in downtown Siloam Springs, one storefront stands out from the rest. With its storefront empty except for a werewolf costume, this building is something more surprising than a novelty store or Halloween-themed shop, as most would guess. It’s the mayor’s office.
David Allen’s office is not filled with campaign posters or district maps; instead, in his office you will find movie posters, trophies and a severed head. A prop head, that is. Even though Allen is Mayor of Siloam Springs, it’s only a part-time job, and his heart lies in movie production. Allen is the founder and CEO of Kismet Entertainment Group, a movie production company that has produced 10 films. The films range from biopics to romances to horror films, one of which provided the werewolf costume in David’s window. Since Allen was elected mayor in 2009, Kismet has not produced a movie and its only employee has been Allen.
The story of how he went from Siloam Springs local, to Hollywood producer, and then to mayor of his hometown is even more interesting that his office. Growing up, it was always expected that Allen would join the family business, Allen Canning, a local business whose headquarters are a short walk from Allen’s current office. After graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Personnel Management Degree, he fulfilled his family’s expectations by working for Allen Canning. In his eight years at Allen, though, his job became increasingly stressful to the point that it affected his health.
“I had so many illnesses that were related to stress [in my time at Allen Canning], … shingles … [and] a lot of [other] problems,” said Allen, “I just said I’m gonna be dead at 35 if I keep this up.”
Allen’s opportunity to get out of his stressful job came when he found success playing the stock market. Using skills he had learned when he was younger, he made more money in the stock market than he was in his day job.
“Some people have a talent for tennis, some can play the piano, I can play the stock market,” said Allen.
Using his newfound wealth, Allen converted his investment group into a movie production company, Kismet Entertainment. Kismet means fate, and for Allen it signified the taking of his fate into his own hands. As a Producer, Allen had his fair share. His movie “Dog Soldiers” was a cult hit in England and his movies have won countless awards and Film festivals. However, Allen also turned down opportunities to have a chance to produce both “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Sean of the Dead,” both small-budget movies that ended up making it big. But Allen was doing what made him happy, and the way he went from his dream job to mayor is even more unlikely than his becoming a movie producer.
Allen did not initially run for mayor because he wanted to win. He ran to give the voters choice. In 2008 long-time Mayor “Moose” Van Poucke retired and there was only one candidate running unopposed in the election to replace him. Wanting to give the voters a choice, Allen ran for mayor. It was far from his first foray into politics, however.
“He’s always been involved with … the city [government],” said Jeremiah Rich, David’s former assistant.
In fact, Allen had been a city board member in the 1990s before he moved out to California to produce movies. Despite his familiarity with local politics, though, he found himself the underdog in the election. However, when his opponent did not consider him to be a serious candidate and did not campaign until the final week, Allen found himself the unexpected winner by less than 20 votes.
“[Winning] was kind of a surreal moment for me, cause I was like ‘be careful what you wish for, because now you got it,’” said Allen, “I had to learn to be mayor and [being mayor] was a learning curve, especially in ”
However, after Allen has had some time in the role, he feels as if he has finally grown into the position. He plans to run for a second term.
“I would think that no matter what he does, he’ll always be really involved locally, whether he is the mayor or not,” said Rich.