Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

TOP STORY >> Independents to fill local ballots in fall

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Voters in Cabot, Beebe, Ward and Austin should not be alarmed over the apparent lack of candidates for public office. Although Tuesday’s primary in Cabot had only a few candidates and the others had none, the ballots will be full in November after all the independent candidates have filed for office between July 20 and August 9.

In Cabot, all the incumbents on the city council ran as independents two years ago, and although a council ordinance allowed them to run as party candidates this year, none did. The only party candidates are Republicans running in open races. Jimmy Taylor is running for city attorney, now filled by Clint McGue, who was appointed and has not announced if he will run.

Alderman Patrick Hutton’s announcement for the Lonoke County Quorum Court created a vacancy that could be filled by a Republican, since two filed for the seat, but there is no guarantee of that because the council refused to pass an ordinance requiring independent candidates to file for office by the day before the primary.

Former City Attorney Ken Williams, who resigned from office, has filed for the Ward 2, Position 2 seat on the council held by Jerry Stephens, who is not running again. Teri Miessner has filed for the Ward 3, Position 2 seat held by Bob Duke, who is retiring, but both candidates could pick up opposition when filing begins for independents in July.

The seemingly routine ordinance that would have required all candidates to file before the primary failed in December with a 4-3 vote.

Without it, there is nothing to prevent party candidates who lose in the primary from filing as independents and running in the general election despite their loss.

In Beebe, all the candidates run as independents and file for office beginning in July. Alderman Mike Robertson, who was mayor eight years ago, is the only announced candidate for mayor.

In Ward, all the candidates run as independents, but the city council passed an ordinance in December requiring that all candidates file by the day before the primary.

Four candidates have filed for mayor: Art Brooke, the incumbent; Alderman Donnie Rouse; former Police Chief Jerry “Buford” McClendon and Bill Boyd.

For the city council, Ginger Tarno, the incumbent, and Don Harris have filed for Ward 1, Position 1. Marrice Jackson, the incumbent, and John Harris have filed for Ward 1, Position 2.

Glenn Walden, the incumbent, has no opposition in Ward 2, Position 1. Don Howard has no opposition for the Ward 2, Position 2 seat now held by Rouse. Charles Gastineau is unopposed for his Ward 3, Position 1 seat. Jeff Shaver, the incumbent, is opposed by former Recorder-Treasurer Murriel Seymour for Ward 3, Position 2.

All Austin candidates run as independents and file between July 20 and August 9.