GF Council opts to let voters pick next mayor

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

GREEN FOREST ---- The next mayor of Green Forest will be elected by a vote of the people during a special election to coincide with the general election in November.

The mayor's position was vacated when former mayor Leonard Tidyman stepped down to accept a job promotion with Arkansas Western Gas that required a move to Fayetteville.

The decision to call for a special election was made after the Green Forest City Council met in executive session on Monday.

"Picking a mayor or calling for a special election was not easy," said Alderman Paul McCormick, when the council reconvened.

He said the council considered seven mayoral candidates who had stepped forward but it was comments from the public that decided the course of action they would take.

"We've had lots of phone calls regarding the two-and-a-half years left on Leonard's term," he said. "Ninety-nine to one said they wanted a special election."

If there were only six months remaining on the term, McCormick said the council might have felt confident making that appointment.

"Seldom have we had the luxury to have so many good candidates for mayor," he said, referring to the seven the council considered.

They included Joe Pierce, Mark Jorgensen and Richard DeWeese, plus city recorder/treasurer Janell Compton. and three others who were not present and who didn't want their names released to the media yet.

Compton, who will serve as acting mayor and recorder/treasurer until a new mayor is elected and seated, will be drawing pay for both positions, at $375 a month for clerk/recorder and $750 a month for acting mayor. She currently utilizes the health insurance package, valued at $250 a month, that is offered with her clerk/recorder job.

Compton said after the meeting that she she doesn't know if she'll officially file as a mayoral candidate. "I'm undecided," she said.

Richard DeWeese, who runs the small engine repair shop at Tanner Hardware, said "I have every intent of running for mayor. I think a special election is a good way to go because two-and-a-half years is a long time."

Mark Jorgensen, manager of Tyson Foods Hatchery, said he would prefer not to announce his intent at this time.

Texaco station owner Joe Pierce said he won't run as mayor, but will seek a city council seat.

Pierce spoke to the council saying he though the selection process for mayor had been confusing, with some candidates required to submit paperwork to city hall and others allowed to remain unnamed because of a phone call to the right person.

"You all need to have one voice as a council," Pierce suggested, "and that should be the acting mayor."

"We were as confused as you," McCormick responded.

Pierce said he only stepped for as a mayoral candidate to prompt others to do so.

"I put my name in as a protest," he said, "and made people come out of the woodwork. I knew I wouldn't get elected."

Pierce asked the council about money the county says the city owes for two years of inmate housing and dispatcher services.

McCormick said he remembered an exchange between county and city leaders when the county jail tax was first proposed. "If we were to endorse the tax, we would be forgiven (payment) from that point forward," McCormick recalled.

Alderman Kelly Hayhurst said there is a recording of that conversation. "I suggest you listen and come to your own conclusion," she said to Pierce.

In other business, McCormick announced that the Good Shepherd Animal Shelter was seeking someone from the Green Forest area to serve on its board of directors. Anyone interested should contact McCormick for more information.

Also, the council voted to meet for its agenda setting meeting on Monday, July 5, although Monday, July 5 is an official holiday.

The the also council passed a resolution calling for the special mayoral election.

McCormick said Don Zimmerman, with the Arkansas Municipal League, assured him that the council could coordinate the special election with the general election in November.

An official at the County Clerk's office said municipal candidates can file for positions July 15 through Aug. 4 at noon.

She said the clerk's office hadn't received notification of the special election for mayor and therefore couldn't comment on the filing period for mayoral candidates at this time.

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