SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Before the politics, the hit TLC show and the controversies, the Duggar family began with Jim Bob and Michelle, who were both born and raised in Springdale, Arkansas.

The couple married in 1984 before Michelle’s 18th birthday. Their first child, Josh, was born four years later.

Tontitown Mayor Paul Colvin has known Michelle since high school.

“She was everybody’s favorite person,” Colvin said.

He says her motherly qualities were there from the very beginning.

“She always put her arms around everybody, she welcomed everybody, there was no stranger in her life,” Colvin said.

According to the official Duggar family website, after suffering a miscarriage while on birth control, Jim Bob and Michelle asked God to give them as many children as he saw fit.

The Duggars had nine kids when Jim Bob first decided to run for public office. In 1998, he won a seat in the Arkansas State Senate.

“People ask me questions about Jim Bob and I don’t know him personally, but I can tell you what I do know and that he has instilled a hardcore work ethic in all of his children and he’s made productive citizens out of each one of his kids,” Colvin said.

Four years later, Jim Bob set his sights on the U.S. Senate. He lost out to fellow Republican Tim Hutchinson, but that actually opened another door.

During his campaign, the New York Times and Parents Magazine published a photo of the Duggar family at a polling place and that caught the eyes of the Discovery Health Channel.

The family agreed to do a one-hour special called, “14 Children and Pregnant Again!” In 2008, TLC launched the series, “17 Kids and Counting,” renaming the show each time the Duggars welcomed a new child.

The show was a hit, but six years in some began calling for its cancelation.

“I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.”

In 2014, Michelle voiced a robocall advocating for an Arkansas bill that would ban trans people from using the bathroom of a sex they were not assigned at birth. More than 100,000 people signed an online petition asking TLC to cancel the Duggar’s TV show.

More controversy erupted in 2015 when news broke that the Duggar’s oldest child, Josh, admitted to molesting young girls, including his own sisters.

Megyn Kelly asked Jim Bob and Michelle about it in an exclusive interview on FOX News.

“Did he explain why? Was that a question that you asked?” Kelly asked.

“He said he was curious about girls, and he had gone in and just basically touched them over their clothes. While they were sleeping. They didn’t even know he had done it,” the Duggars answered Kelly.

TLC did cancel the show and launched a spinoff series called, “Counting On,” with sisters Jill and Jessa Duggar.

But the controversy continued.

Jill, Jessa and two other Duggar sisters sued the city of Springdale and Washington county in 2017. They claim that police broke a confidentiality agreement in the molestation case regarding Josh.

“This case is solely about protecting children who are victims of abuse. We hope that by bringing this case to the public’s attention, all children will be protected from reckless reporting,” Rachel Olis of Hare, Winn, Newell, & Newton said.

Josh’s legal trouble has continued into 2021.

In April, he was arrested for the receipt and possession of child pornography. Prosecutors say he downloaded several images and videos of children under age 12.

One federal agent called it one of the top-five worst cases he’s ever seen.

“He has a lot of experience and has been doing this a long time. If he said that, that’s substantial,” Kevin Metcalf, founder of National Child Protection Task Force said.

Josh was found guilty of both counts on December 9 and faces up to 40 years in prison.

Just days later, Jim Bob lost his latest bid for an Arkansas State Senate seat in Springdale.

As for Colvin, he says despite the controversies he feels the Duggars are good people who just want to do right by the world.

“When you step back away from all the hoopla and start thinking about your family values, the Duggars instill in a lot of people, um, protecting their children,” Colvin said. “I wish them well.”

KNWA made several attempts over the past few months to talk with the Duggar family. We were told they would talk, then our texts, calls and emails went unanswered.

Ultimately, they declined to go on camera.

KNWA also reached out to several extended family members and friends who declined the requests. Some even said they’ve signed non-disclosure agreements.