Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

TOP STORY > >Cabot aldermen start filing for city council

By JOAN McCOY
Leader staff writer

The filing period for independent candidates for city council started Wednesday, Aug. 6, but so far only two have filed in Cabot and none have filed in Beebe.

The filing period ends at noon Aug. 26.

Richard Prentice filed Wednesday for the Ward 3, Position 2 seat in Cabot now held by Teri Miessner.

Patrick Hutton, a former council member who lost his race two years ago for the Lonoke County Quorum Court, wants back on the council and has filed for the Ward 2, Position 1 seat now held by Virgil Teague.

Teague, serving his first two-year term on the council, suffered a stroke last year and has been absent from several council meetings and committee meetings.

In Beebe, Linda Anthony, a former council member, has announced that she intends to run for the Ward 1 Position 2 seat held for almost six years by Janice Petray.

Petray, who last month rear-ended a pickup at a traffic light in Beebe and is now at the center of a controversy over whether she received special treatment from police officers on the scene, says she plans to run again.

Hutton, an active member of the Lonoke County Republican Committee, sponsored the legislation calling for party elections for the Cabot City Council in 2006. But a year ago, over the strong objections of the Lonoke County Republican Committee, the council voted to hold independent races for the Nov. 4 election.
Alderman Eddie Cook sponsored the legislation for non-partisan elections for the council.

The proponents of party elections said at that time that voters need to know whether candidates are Republican or Democrat to know whether their values are the same as theirs. But Cook said the Cabot council never deals with the issues like abortion and homosexuality. Instead of looking for the “R” or “D” beside a candidate’s name, voters should get to know the candidates, he said.

North Lonoke County is now predominantly Republican, so Republican candidates are the most likely to be elected. Cook said in support of his resolution that without getting to know the candidates it’s impossible to determine their values.

Cook’s resolution passed 5-2. Miessner and Alderman Becky Lemaster voted against the resolution. However, Alderman Ken Williams voted for it and even though he was under pressure from Republicans to veto the resolution, Mayor Eddie Joe Williams refused to do so.

A formal complaint that could have led to expulsion from the Lonoke County Republican Committee was later filed against Mayor Williams and Alderman Williams for their position, but no action was taken against the two.

Members of the Cabot City Council are paid $630 a month and are expected to attend council and committee meetings. Most opt to have city insurance deducted from their checks. Like all city employees, they pay up to about $210 a month medical, dental and vision insurance.

In Beebe, council members and the mayor may opt to take the insurance or be paid the amount of the premium, $748 a month. All council members in Beebe are also paid an additional $10 a month.

However, Carol Crump-Westergren, city clerk-treasurer, said no one on the current city council takes the money.

“In December, I write them a check for $120 minus taxes,” she said. “They give it to the Angel Tree.”