Three differ on vision
GARFIELD — Three people are seeking the mayor’s seat in this town of 572 people, classified as a second-class city by the state. There are 388 registered voters inside the city limits, according to the Benton County Clerk’s Office. The annual salary for the position is $16,006.20.
Mayor Gary Blackburn is seeking re-election to his second term. He was a member of the City Council for two years prior to seeking the mayor’s seat.
Dale King, a former City Council member and former Benton County justice of the peace, is seeking election.
Katherine Shook is a current City Council member.
Blackburn, referring to himself as a “government man,” said he worked for the U.S. Post Office before retiring and has served on the Garfield Planning Commission. “It’s one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve ever had in my life.”
King said he’s retired and wants to “make Garfield a better place to live.” He listed several projects on which he had worked when serving previously, including the construction of the current City Hall and attracting Dollar General to town.
Shook said she has 11 years of business experience and believes she can “do a better job.” She cited water loss, old water lines and fire hydrants within the city limits that aren’t usable as issues
she would tackle. She said former water supervisor Mickey Kelley said he would return to work in Garfield if she were elected.
All three answered questions posed to them by moderator Greg Harton, editorial page editor of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Question: What do you believe the responsibilities of mayor are in Garfield?
King: “Put unison back in our city. Work with everybody on everything. It’s not just a water situation.”
Blackburn: “The Arkansas constitution says the mayor is the ex-officio person in charge of council meetings, responsible for enforcing ordinances and resolutions, and responsible for supervising the employees of the city. I’ve worked diligently… spent a disordinate (sic) amount of time on water loss ratio.”
Shook: “Running the city like a business. You have to make sure you have personnel who are more knowledgeable than you — people who are smarter than you. It’s about relationships, working closely with NEBCO and Garfield school, getting involved in community. The prior mayor was in the Municipal League and got grants for park and road. You have to look at bottom line. Garfield’s labor costs have increased by 51 percent; I’m not sure that’s efficient.”
Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series about the candidates for mayor in Garfield.