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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette File Photo/ANTHONY REYES Downtown Bentonville Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. - Photo by Anthony Reyes

BENTONVILLE -- The filing period is open for those interested in filling the vacant City Council seat.

Tom Hoehn left the Ward 3, Position 1 seat in November after accepting a job in Dallas.

Ward 3 applications

Residents interested in the Ward 3, Position 1 City Council seat may inquire at the Benton County clerk’s office at 215 E. Central Ave., suite 217, or the Mayor’s Office on the third floor of Bentonville City Hall at 117 W. Central Ave.

Petitions also may be obtained by calling 479-271-5966.

Source: Staff report

Aubrey Patterson was the only one to file a petition for candidacy as of 3:40 p.m. Friday.

Candidates must be residents of Ward 3 and a registered voter. Ward 3 encompasses the city's southwest area. It is south of West Central Avenue and Southwest Second Street and west of Southwest A Street, South Walton Boulevard and South Rainbow Road.

Candidates need to complete and file a petition with the Benton County clerk's office. The petition requires at least 30 signatures of those qualified to vote in Bentonville.

The filing period opened Friday and will close at noon Dec. 22. The special election will be March 13. The term expires Dec. 31, 2018.

State law allows city councils to fill vacancies either by appointment or special election if there is more than a year of the term left. The council must appoint someone if the term has less than a year remaining.

This is not the first time the council has needed to fill a vacant seat in recent years, but it is the first time council members have opted to hold a special election to do so.

Hoehn was appointed to the council in July after James Smith left in June for a job in Colorado. Council members selected Hoehn from eight applicants.

Smith was appointed to the council and began serving in June 2014. He and John Skaggs were appointed at the same time to fill vacancies by council members who moved out of the wards they represented.

Smith and Skaggs were both elected to their seats in the 2014 election. Smith was re-elected in 2016. Chad Goss ousted Skaggs.

Council members in Bentonville represent the ward they reside in but are elected at-large and serve two-year terms since the city's population is less than 50,000. Council members in cities with a population more than 50,000 are elected to four-year terms, according to state law.

The seat is filled more quickly if someone is appointed, but a special election allows people to select their representative, said George Spence, city attorney.

"We won't have the person for awhile," he said, adding that it would be a larger concern if Bentonville council members were elected by ward rather than at-large.

Council members agreed at their Nov. 14 meeting to hold a special election. The special election will cost $3,500 plus $500 for each polling site, Spence told them. The election likely will have two to three polling sites.

The election will let those interested in the seat meet with constituents and city staff, allowing them to gain a better understanding of the city's needs prior to serving on the council, said Bill Burckart, Ward 3 council member.

Having the vacancy arise this time of year helps because agendas tend to be smaller as business slows down around the holidays, he added. The council also typically doesn't have a second meeting in December.

"It's the most opportune time to allow this process to take place," Burckart said.

New ward boundaries take effect Jan. 1, 2019, which may change the ward in which re-election is sought in 2018 since the term begins in the new year, Spence said.

Ward 3 will be south of Southwest 14th Street and west of Southwest I Street under the new boundaries.

NW News on 12/04/2017

Print Headline: Filing period open for special election

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