Bentonville council fills one seat, one remains empty

Posted: February 28, 2018 at 1:11 a.m.

Bentonville city council selected Jonathan Terlouw to fill the vacant ward 4 seat on February 27, 2018. He was sworn in after the vote.

BENTONVILLE -- The City Council selected Jonathan Terlouw to fill the vacant Ward 4 council seat.

Terlouw has lived in Bentonville for 25 years, worked at Walmart for 24 years and resided in the same house for 23 years. But he told the council at its meeting Tuesday the most important number is the 32 years he's been married to his wife, Lori, at which point a collective sigh of admiration came from the full room.

Council action

Bentonville’s City Council met Tuesday and approved:

• To buy the Police Department three new Chevrolet Tahoes.

• A $2,330 change order with Dis-Tran.

• To grant a 20-foot easement to Black Hills Energy along the north property line of the Community Center.

• Agreements with First Employment Staffing and with Staffmark to provide temporary staff for the Parks and Recreation and Public Works maintenance staffs.

• To hire Water Technology for a plan for the Melvin Ford Aquatic Center.

• Agreements with Crafton Tull & Associates and Morrison Shipley Engineers for improvements along the Razorback Greenway.

• An agreement with Crystal Bridges to replace and move a 12-inch sewer main associated with the Momentary.

Source: Staff report

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Terlouw was one of three men who submitted a letter of interest to serve in the vacant council seat, which Jim Webb resigned from earlier this month. Anthony Ciabattari and Ian Stanley were the other two.

Historically, when the council has opted to appoint someone to an empty seat, there's been a nomination, a second, little to no discussion and a vote, said George Spence, city attorney.

"There has been some dissatisfaction among the council for that," he said, explaining the six seated council members would need four votes to either directly appoint someone or to approve a method by which the vote should happen.

Council member Octavio Sanchez suggested the council vote with written ballots that identified who voted for whom to prevent a verbal vote for the first person to receive a nomination.

The council discussed the process for several minutes and what would happen if there were a two- or three-way tie among those interested in serving.

"I don't disagree that how we've done it in the past is a little curt and quick, but it is clear," said Chad Goss, council member.

The council opted, 5-1, to cast written ballots and to give Mayor Bob McCaslin a vote to avoid a tie. Goss voted against the method.

Each candidate was given three minutes to introduce themselves and say why they wanted to serve on the council. Stanley was absent from Tuesday's meeting.

Ciabattari has lived in Ward 4 for five years with his wife and three children. He spoke of his community involvement in his neighborhood and at church.

Ciabattari unsuccessfully ran for City Council in 2014 and 2016.

Terlouw said he's seen the city change over the last 2 1/2 decades and was appreciative of how the council has made its decisions. He said he wanted to be a part of that process.

"I'll bring commitment to the city," he told the council. "Change has to happen, but that doesn't mean it has to happen haphazardly."

The council voted for Terlouw 5-2. Sanchez and Orman voted for Ciabattari. McCaslin swore Terlouw in to office after the vote was taken.

Voters will choose who will fill the empty Ward 3 seat formally held by Tom Hoehn during a special election March 13. Hoehn resigned in November to take a job in Dallas.

City councils can either appoint someone to an empty seat or opt for a special election to be held as long as there is at least a year left on the term. There was on Hoehn's and there wasn't on Webb's, which is why the special election wasn't an option for the Ward 4 seat, Spence said.

All eight of the council's seats will be up for grabs during the general election in November. Representatives will be elected from new ward boundaries the council approved last year in an attempt to balance out the city's population between the four wards.

NW News on 02/28/2018