EDITORIAL for May 19-22, 2018
Iím CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof. In August of 2016 Levi Garner was elected to the Benson City Council. He got more votes than any other council candidate and that was pretty remarkable when you consider that Garner was in his mid twenties. Garner was the youngest person to be elected to the council in at least 25 years. Since he was elected to a four year term his term is supposed to last until the end of 2020. But he almost certainly wonít remain on the council that long. Thatís due to a development thatís been pretty much hushed up. Very few people know that in late March or early April Garner and his wife acquired a house in Mescal which is well outside the Benson City Limits. There doesnít seem to be much doubt that Garnerís family moved to the new home well over a month ago but Levi says that he still lives in Benson. Thatís important because Arizona law doesnít allow a member of a city council to live outside the city limits.
The story that weíre told is that Benson City Clerk and Interim City Manager Vicki Vivian noticed the Garner Family packing up their belongings and apparently moving out of the home on Union Street where they were residing. Vivian asked Garner what was going on and he admitted that he intends to move out of Benson but he isnít saying exactly when. Vivian took the matter to City Attorney Paul Loucks who decided to pass the buck to County Attorney Brian McIntyre. McIntyreís assignment is to decide if Garner is still living in Benson and if he can legally remain on the council. Here it is important to understand that under the Benson city ordinance the remaining council members get to select Garnerís replacement unless his seat becomes vacant at least 30 days before nominating papers are due in the next election. And nominating papers are due for the 2018 election on May 30th which is fast approaching. That means that if Garner had resigned before May first the voters of Benson would select Garnerís successor. But Garner appears to have decided to run down the clock and hold off on resigning his seat. One possible reason might be that Garner would rather have his successor selected by the present council members than having the new council member selected by the voters of Benson. If thatís correct Garner is trying to subvert the democratic process. But why?
Here I can only speculate and do some guess work. One of the biggest issues to come before the Benson City Council in recent years has been the proposed Vigneto housing development. Youíll recall that a pair of companies called El Dorado propose to build 28,000 houses over a 28 year time frame. With one exception the entire existing city council appear to enthusiastically embrace this project though many critics have their doubts about it including Councilman David Lambert who has decided not to seek re-election. My best guess would be that Levi Garner would like to make sure that his successor is a big believer in the Vigneto project. If the present council selects Garnerís successor thereís no question that the new council member will support Vigneto. If the voters of Benson make the selection all bets are off.
So what comes next? The only thing that likely could thwart Garnerís apparent game plan is if County Attorney McIntyre determines that Garner moved to Mescal before May first. And such a determination would have to be made pronto because the May 30th deadline will be here in about ten days.
What I find most upsetting about all this is that no attempt has been made by the city administration to let the public know whatís going on. The Garner matter got mentioned during the call to the public at last Monday eveningís city council meeting and that got reported on CAVE news on Tuesday morning. Not a word has been printed about this issue in the local newspaper thus far. This radio station takes pride in its service to the people in our coverage area including exclusive news reporting. My thanks to David Lambert for providing me with information on the Garner matter. Iíll have more to say about the upcoming election in the near future.
Iím CAVE MANager Paul Lotsof and the opinions youíve just heard are mine and not necessarily anyone elseís. If youíd like a copy of this editorial or youíd like to express your opnions go to the CAVE web site and click on Editorials. Weíre at CAVEFM. Com. Thatís CAVEFM.com.