Three seek mayor’s seat; no more taxes foreseen
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.”
Mayor Gary Blackburn and opponents Dale King and Kathrine Shook answered questions about their vision for the city at a forum Oct. 1.