Three dif­fer on vi­sion

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­NETTE BEARD

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.

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