Critics say Redfield mayor has created city turmoil


REDFIELD — Two of the three city aldermen who signed a recall petition seeking to remove Mayor Tony Lawhon from office blamed the city’s chief executive for divisions in municipal government.

John Jones, who has served on the Redfield City Council for almost three decades, said he has been disappointed by Lawhon’s actions as mayor.

Jones said the dissension at City Hall, coupled with his health problems, combined to convince him not to run for re-election. The two men served on the council together before Lawhon was elected mayor in a runoff in November 2010.

Alderman Danny Dial, who filed for re-election Friday, concurred with Jones that Lawhon must accept blame for much of the discord in municipal government.

Brenda Carmical, the third member of the council to sign the recall petition, declined to comment for this article. Instead, she said, she has submitted a letter to the Commercial’s editor.

The state recall law has been amended several times in recent years. The requirement that the reason for the recall effort be included on the petitions was deleted during the amendment process, according to the Arkansas Municipal League.

The Jefferson County court clerk’s office certified the recall vote for the Nov. 6 General Election ballot.

The Commercial contacted Adell Newton, Courtney Cooper, Steve HyGail and Steve Carmical, husband of Alderman Carmical, who were listed among six individuals who circulated the recall petitions in Redfield.

“My experience with the mayor has not been favorable,” Cooper said, adding she believes Lawhon does not work with the council and public in carrying out his duties.

Lawhon did not obtain council authorization before approving some actions, Cooper added, citing the purchase of lights for the baseball field.

Newton said she decided to circulate the petitions because of her experience with Lawhon “belittling people. It’s just not right.”

She contended Lawhon has not been truthful in all of his actions.

HyGail said he started attending monthly council meetings after Lawhon moved to cut the Redfield Volunteer Fire Department’s appropriation in the 2012 municipal budget, adding the mayor initially said “he would not be a deciding factor” in any council vote to raise his salary.

It was obvious that Lawhon favored a raise and ended up with a salary hike, HyGail added.

“I couldn’t believe how it went down,” he added.

“He (Lawhon) has created strife,” Steve Carmical said of Lawhon’s management style.

“He is trying to claim this is a police department versus fire department thing,” Carmical added.

“When he threatened her (Brenda Carmical), it threatened me,” he concluded.

“I have a vision for Redfield,” Lawhon said in response to his critics.

“Each time I put forth that vision of a small, prosperous growing Southern town, the three members of the council you quoted always disagree,” the mayor said. “Ask where the discord is coming from.

“Redfield deserves better than this discord. If elected to remain in office in November, I hope to lead us on to better things.”

Arkansas Statute 14-42-119 provides for an election on the removal of elected municipal officials when petitions are signed by 25 percent or more of the qualified electors in a municipality.

If a simple majority of registered voters vote to recall Lawhon, he must vacate the office upon certification of the election. If a majority votes against removal, he can continue to serve during the term for which he was elected.