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A letter from Bauxite Mayor Johnny McMahan, dated July 30, was sent to a select number of Bauxite residents to encourage them to run for the offices of alderman, mayor and town treasurer in the November 2014 general election.
According to McMahan, the letter was sent out to about 15 residents.
The letter stated: "I am asking you personally to consider becoming one of these candidates as I believe Bauxite needs intelligent, serious and dedicated people to help our town through the next two to four years."
The letter went on to explain that the filing period for municipal office would close on Aug. 15 and a 10-signature petition, signed by registered voters who vie in Bauxite, was required of each candidate.
The letter stated: "In my opinion, only one current alderman (Brenda Haney, Position 3) is taking her job serious and probably won't run for re-election. The other positions that need to be filled with opponents are: Position 1: Karen Brooks; Position 2: Paula Matthews; Position 4: (vacant, Allison Cain resigned) and last, but not least Position 5: Mona Struble. (I believe Brooks, Matthews and Struble are not up to the task and believe they are "running amok" with mischievousness and need to be replaced)."
"There are many issues facing our town and I believe the continued survival of Bauxite hangs in the balance, and will be crucial as the town faces many financial issues that need to be addressed," he sated.
"In my opinion, unless a core group of enlightened citizens steps forward and runs for office, the Town of Bauxite may cease to exist in a few years and by necessity will be absorbed by Benton or Bryant."
The letter concluded by saying; "Time is running out for you to make a decision. If you do become a candidate, I will help you as much as I can."
McMahan said in an email to the Bauxite aldermen, "I could have said a lot more, but I didn't. I tried to keep it to one page, which I sent out with my personal funds. I sent it to about 15 persons and not one wanted to get in this 'hot mess' and I believed they were 'intelligent, smart' and didn't need the $175 a month."
He added, "Even though I did not run for re-election, I still want the best for Bauxite and I believe that the next group that comes in will not be any improvement, as it looks like the 'old' will be the new 'new' and you know what the 'old' did."
McMahan continued by saying, "The general public is not used to an elected official 'telling it like it is' as most officials try to be 'politically correct' and don't want to step on anybody's toes for the fear of 'offending them.'
"If you are offended by the letter," McMahan added, "that's your fault. If the shoe fits, wear it."
He concluded by saying, "One reason I didn't run for re-election is I'm tired of dealing with persons that have, in my opinion, a 'sub-standard' intellect. One person pointed out to me that smart people are not 'offended' easily; it's the other side that is offended at the drop of a hat."
Alderman Karen Brooks reacted to the letter by saying, "It is very sad we have come to this, but I have to just laugh and joke about it." Brooks wished Struble and Matthews the best in their next terms on council; neither faces opposition in the upcoming November election.
Brooks said she hopes the Town of Bauxite can move forward adding, "Not sure if this is even possible?" Brooks also said, "Funny thing is he could not come up with anyone who wanted to run and put up with Bauxite politics"
Alderman Mona Struble also reacted to the letter saying, "Advice to you (McMahan), I'd try to make the best of the bad situation you created. Stop pointing fingers. You knew the problems when you ran and fought to keep it. Shut up.... Quit complaining and work with us to help Bauxite."
She added, "We are strong in Bauxite. We don't give a flippidy-flop what you think of us. You don't like us (Bauxite). Pack up and move! I'm sure you would get along just fine somewhere else. I promise we will do fine without you."
McMahan, when asked about the letter, said, "Some mayors quietly recruit or promote friendly candidates to run for office but they keep it under the "radar" so as they can then deny what they are doing. I don't do that. I actively recruited and campaigned for five candidates two years ago and four of them were successful, two of them weren't my first choice but it was all I could get and we see how that's turned out. I tried again this year with no success.Â Such is the life in politics."