McRae appointed to fill vacant seat

City Council meeting has volatile beginning

In a lengthy first Monticello City Council meeting of 2018, the members accepted Alderwoman Carolyn Brown’s resignation letter and voted to fill her seat with Craig McRae for the remainder of her term. Brown served in Ward 2, Position 1; her term was scheduled to end Dec. 31.
Brown gave her letter of resignation to Mayor David Anderson last Wednesday, effective immediately. Per Arkansas Statute 14-45-103, it was then the remaining council members’ duty to replace her at the next meeting, which was Tuesday night.
Two people were nominated to fill the Brown’s vacant position. Alderwoman Claudia Hartness nominated McRae and Alderman Al Peer nominated JoAnn Trotter.
Alderman Cedric Leonard was very outspoken about his disapproval of the process to replace the vacant seat without properly vetting the potential candidates.
“I don’t think this is right when as a whole, the council doesn’t know these people,” Leonard said.
Hartness and Alderwomen Paige Chase gave many credentials for McRae and Hartness insisted that they go ahead with the appointment.
Hartness, Chase, Joe Meeks and Michael James voted for McRae. Peer voted for Trotter and Leonard abstained. Alderwomen Beverly Hudson was absent.
According to the Arkansas Municipal League, McRae—if he chooses to—can run for the position to which he was appointed at the next election.
“The relevant Arkansas constitutional provisions in this regard are Amendment 29, Sections 1-4,” the AML wrote on its website (arml.org). “These sections are more significant for what they don’t say than what they do.
“They deal with state, district, circuit, county and township offices, but specifically do not deal with municipal offices. Section 2 prohibits election to succeed oneself, but it does not apply to municipalities. Thus, those appointed to hold municipal offices are eligible to run for that same office (Ark. Atty. Gen. Op. No. 86-392).”
The council was able to come to a consensus about all other issues voted on during Tuesday’s meeting.
Monticello Police Chief Eddy Deaton presented paperwork to the council about the need of new bulletproof vests and body cameras.
“Our current vests expire in June,” Deaton said. “I will also be applying for a grant through the Arkansas Police Chief’s Association to help with the cost of these but it is first-come, first-served, so I would ask that we do this sooner rather than later.”
The council unanimously approved the bid to purchase the MPD new bulletproof vests and body cameras.
City Finance Director Vickie Norris announced that there would be no Finance Committee meeting in February because the city does not have any large expenditures in the first quarter of the year. The committee will next meet in March, unless something big needs attention, Norris added.
Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Reggie Binns gave his monthly report and told the council that he was happy to see an information board being erected at the Monticello Sports Complex that has details about field numbers.
Monticello Economic Development Commission Executive Director Nita McDaniel gave her usual report.
“We are unchanged on most projects,” McDaniel noted. “On project 1120, our site was not selected but we are still in talks with them about a regional project. It is a slow process.”
McDaniel said she was bound by confidentialy agreement not to release the name of the product or company in question.
The council heard from city inspector Brian Rodgers and voted to place liens on two properties due to non-compliance with city codes. Located at 512 East Gaines Street and 215 South Speer Street, Apartment 3, the properties were both deemed unsafe and a nuisance to the city of Monticello.
After an explanation from City Attorney Whit Barton, the council approved to let Anderson engage in litigation with the Arkansas Municipal League against those responsible for the opioid crisis in Monticello.
“I have no personal opinion on this type of litigation,” Barton said. “However, it is being backed by the Arkansas Municipal League and it will be of no cost to the city of Monticello.”

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