Three seek mayor’s seat; no more taxes fore­seen

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - COMMUNITY - AN­NETTE BEARD abeard@nwadg.com ••• Editor’s note: This is the sec­ond in a three-part series about the can­di­dates for mayor in Garfield.

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.

Ques­tion: Do you be­lieve a tax in­crease would be nec­es­sary in the fu­ture to meet the de­mands for city ser­vices in a grow­ing com­mu­nity?

Black­burn: “The po­si­tion of mayor, we’re tied at the hip to the City Coun­cil. The City Coun­cil re­ally gov­erns what the mayor does. They tell us what they want. My­self and the city coun­cil re­duced taxes. To­day you have $19,000 in your pocket as a re­sult of that tax re­duc­tion. Govern­ment needs to learn to live on a bud­get and that bud­get is con­trolled by the coun­cil and they say what you need to spend.”

King: “Sav­ings can be made with the money you have to use. I think pos­i­tive in all those things; it’s more to do than just wa­ter. Got no uni­son in this, ev­ery­body run­ning in a cir­cle. He’s sup­posed to be gov­erned by the coun­cil. Coun­cil don’t even know be­cause line items changed.”

Shook: “I don’t think taxes nec­es­sar­ily need to be in­creased; I think the city needs to be run more ef­fi­ciently. City is con­sid­er­ing $100,000 for new wa­ter me­ters. We only have seven miles of wa­ter line. I’m for run­ning an ef­fi­cient town — run­ning the town like a busi­ness.”

Ques­tion: What are your plans to sup­port and at­tract busi­nesses to Garfield?

Shook: “Place cre­at­ing — our down­town area, we’ve talked about putting in side­walks. There are grants avail­able, street lights, cre­at­ing a place, peo­ple come through and don’t even re­al­ize they’ve passed through. Mu­nic­i­pal League has put in a lot of ar­ti­cles … we need to cre­ate a place, through com­mu­nity build­ing, get­ting grants.”

King: “The fire was one of the big dis­counts you got on your in­sur­ance. Roads — the peo­ple that are try­ing to come into this part are look­ing for a place. The school … let’s make a bet­ter place for them. Ev­ery­body should put those things to­gether. Have meet­ings where you can dis­cuss with­out get­ting up­set and bang­ing the gavel.”

Black­burn: “So far this year, sales tax is down $7,000 this year from last year. Peo­ple are’t spend­ing as much money. I started the BIG pro­gram — Buy in Garfield. We need more peo­ple pa­tron­iz­ing the Dol­lar Gen­eral. I’ve worked dili­gently with the North­west Arkansas Re­gional Plan­ning. I’m look­ing at a food ven­dor go­ing in.”

TIMES pho­to­graph by An­nette Beard

Mayor Gary Black­burn and op­po­nents Dale King and Kathrine Shook an­swered ques­tions about their vi­sion for the city at a fo­rum Oct. 1.

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