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Barling Mayor Jerry Barling, who was running unopposed for re-election when he died Oct. 4 after a brief battle with cancer, received 991 votes in Tuesday's general election.

"I think that's great," City Administrator Mike Tanner said Wednesday about the votes cast for Barling. "It says a lot about the man."

Since the ballots containing his name had already been printed when he died, Barling's name could not be removed, said Wally Gattis, the town's new mayor.

Barling, 73, had served 47 years for the city of Barling, which was named after his family. He first served as recorder/treasurer at age 24, was elected mayor in 1971 and served in the office until his death from lung cancer.

He also owned a real estate brokerage firm and was the owner and operator of Gun City in Barling.

On Oct. 23, the next regular meeting after Barling's death, the town's board of directors appointed Gattis, an at-large city director and vice mayor, to serve out the remainder of Barling's term, which ends Dec. 31.

"I'm anxious to get involved and serve the best I can as mayor of Barling," Gattis said.

Gattis said he learned after being sworn in as mayor that he had given up his at-large city director seat, a position he held for the past five years and one that he enjoyed.

Gattis also was re-elected unopposed to another four-year term Tuesday. He had intended to serve the term once he served out Barling's current term. As in Barling's case, the ballots already had been printed when Gattis was sworn in as mayor.

Gattis said he called the Arkansas Municipal League and inquired about what would happen with the upcoming four-year term Barling would have served had he not died. Gattis said he found out state law allows him to serve that term or, if not, the board of directors would call a special election.

[2018 ELECTION: Full Democrat-Gazette coverage of Arkansas races]

Since Gattis no longer was an at-large director, he said, he decided to serve Barling's term.

The board will consider at its meeting Tuesday the appointment of someone to fill the remaining weeks of Gattis' term in the at-large position, Gattis said.

That person will have the option to serve the position's upcoming four-year term as well. If not, the at-large position would be filled by a special election.

State Desk on 11/08/2018

Print Headline: Arkansas mayor who died weeks before election gets nearly 1,000 votes; appointee in job

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