Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TOP STORY >> Cabot decides against holding partisan voting

Leader staff writer

Former Cabot Mayor Stubby Stumbaugh made a plea Monday night for council support for a resolution to hold partisan elections in 2010, but the resolution failed 6-2.

Stumbaugh, who has said he is considering a second run for mayor, spoke as chairman of the Lonoke County Republican Committee saying he is a Republican because he is for smaller government, individual rights and the rights of the unborn.

Voters need to know what candidates stand for whether they are Democrats, Republicans or independents. Stumbaugh asked that the council consider postponing the vote for one month so representatives from the Democratic Party could attend.

“I know there are people who are totally against this. I’d just ask you to be open-minded,” he said.

Former Alderman Becky Lemaster also spoke in favor of the resolution, saying voters need to know where candidates stand. She pointed out that Mayor Eddie Joe Williams ran as a Republican during a year partisan elections were allowed and that he is running for state Senate as a Republican. And she asked how he would like it if he was told that he is no longer allowed.

But from the council table, the only comments came from Alderman Rick Prentice, the sponsor of the resolution, and Alderman Patrick Hutton, who has sponsored similar resolutions in the past. Both are Republicans.

One argument in the past against partisan elections was that city councils don’t vote on issues like gun control and abortion.

“They do vote on taxes and more government,” Prentice said.

Hutton said it is not right for the council to prohibit party affiliation.

The vote should not have been surprising to anyone who watches the Cabot City Council. The last time partisan elections were considered, the mayor and former Alderman Ken Williams, a Republican, were summoned to a meeting of the Lonoke County Republican Committee to explain why they didn’t support the resolution despite the fact that committee members as well as Democrats had asked them to. At risk was their membership in the Lonoke County Republican Committee, but no action was taken against either.

If there was a surprise Monday night it came from Prentice, who had just been shown voting information collected by former Alderman Odis Waymack. Cabot has 12,791 registered voters, but of that number, 82.8 percent are not registered as Democrats or Republicans and vote for both on the same ballot.

Prentice maintained that the parties stand for core values that voters understand and they make their selections based on what they understand those values to be. And even though he was obviously surprised about the lack of party affiliation in the county, he said he brought the resolution to the council and stood by it.
In other business:

Alderman Ed Long withdrew the animal-control ordinance that has been in the works for many months. Council members refused to pass the latest version of the ordinance last month when they realized it contained no provisions for the animal rescuers who take care of unwanted animals until they find new homes.

Long said he didn’t want the ordinance tabled because it would keep coming back every month. Instead, he wanted it withdrawn until it has been reworked and reviewed by the public works committee, which he chairs.

The council also replaced Alderman Lisa Brickell on the personnel and budget committee and the advertising and promotion commission with Ann Gilliam. Brickell, the youngest member of the council, is in college and is unable to attend those meetings.

Ryan Flynn was unanimously appointed to the Cabot Parks and Recreation Commission.

Cabot WaterWorks was recognized by the state and the Centers for Disease Control for 12 months of optimum-level fluoridation in the city’s water. The certificate was awarded by Matt Moudy, a Cabot dentist, who said, “Oral health is vital to health in general.”