Top News Stories of 2018, No. 2: City council experiences high turnover
By Samantha Jones
The Eureka Springs City Council is ending 2018 with several new voices at the table.
At the council's first meeting of the year, Melissa Greene was appointed to replace former alderwoman Peg Adamson. Greene's name was on the ballot along with Greg Moon, Pat Matsukis, James DeVito and Taylor Weaver. Greene received three votes, with Weaver receiving one. Alderwoman Kristi Kendrick moved to take a five-minute recess so Mayor Butch Berry could swear Greene into office. When she took her seat at the table, Greene thanked the council for appointing her to the position.
In July, the council saw another change. Alderman David Mitchell announced in an email on July 16 that he would be resigning from his position. He said he hoped his resignation would allow the council a chance to appoint a replacement for his position, he said, for the rest of the calendar year. That person would then have time to consider running for his position in the fall, Mitchell said.
“Opening up my position will allow the public to monitor a candidate for the city council for the next two-year term and apply common sense to their selection,” Mitchell said. “It has been an honor to serve in this capacity for these 5.5 years and I wish you will [sic] in your next term.”
Mitchell said he has served for three terms unopposed and didn’t plan to run again in 2018. The reason for that, Mitchell said, is he believes in term limits.
“I have discussed recently with you the desire to resign and thus allow a potential candidate for my position to be able to with council approval sit out the remainder of this term,” Mitchell said.
On Aug. 13, the council appointed Tom Buford to Mitchell's position for the rest of the year. Berry said both Buford and Ken Pownall applied for the position. City clerk Ann Armstrong read the votes, saying Buford received all four votes. The council agreed to have a five-minute recess, and Buford was sworn in.
It wasn't long before the council received another resignation, this time from Kendrick. In an Oct. 26 email, Kendrick said she would be resigning from her position effective immediately. Her resignation didn’t come as a surprise to anyone who attended the council’s Oct. 22 meeting, where Kendrick delivered a scathing criticism of the council in particular and city government in general and vowed to submit her resignation by the end of the week.
“I personally no longer have the patience for the bulls**t and pettiness that I get, not just from the city council but for all of city government,” Kendrick said. “At this point in time, I feel that the only way to solve the problems of this city may be in the courts. You will have my resignation this week.”
Kendrick submitted her resignation via email later that week.
In the general election Nov. 7, citizens electted two new members to the council. Susan Harman defeated Caitlin Branaman for the Ward 1, Position 2 seat on the council, and Harry Meyer won the Ward 3, Position 2 seat over Eric Knowles.
Incumbents Greene and Terry McClung were re-elected with victories over James DeVito and Joyce Knowles, respectively. Council members Mickey Schneider and Bob Thomas were re-elected without opposition.
Berry, who won re-election, said he was looking forward to working with new council members.
“I think the new council members are going to be open-minded and willing to listen,” Berry said. “I want to congratulate all of them. We’ve got a great council coming up, and it’s a sign the citizens want positive growth.”
Meyer took his seat at the table a little earlier than Harman, being appointed to the seat on Nov. 25, after Kendrick's resignation. Greene suggested appointing Meyer to the open position, saying he’d be serving on the council in a month anyway. The council agreed to appoint him, and Greene moved to swear him in immediately.
In 2019, the council will include Greene, McClung, Thomas, Meyer, Harman and Schneider. The council's first meeting of the year is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, at The Auditorium.