As Sherwood city officials debate the issue of what electric company should be designated to service city households, a retired alderwoman who served three decades says there is too much division in the city should has loved for many years.
Becki Vassar’s comments came on Monday during the regular January meeting of Sherwood City Council.
"And in the forty plus years I’ve lived here, I don’t think I’ve ever met, or heard of anyone being forced to move to Sherwood or forced to live here…life is too short to be miserable," Vassar told the council. "If you can’t be happy here, please move and let those of us who love this city continue the progress."
Vassar’s comments came as city officials are grappling with the prospect of putting the North Little Rock Electric ordinance on a public ballot after a petition drive sustained enough valid signatures to recall the council vote of Nov. 26 which chose North Little Rock Electric.
Vassar said he disagrees with how the petitions were gathered which led to the recall of the North Little Rock Electric ordinance.
"This has gone too far… some people who signed these petitions were misled and confused," said Vassar. " Some people who gathered signatures were misled and confused, and told me so, and a number of people want their names removed."
Vassar called upon the current slate of city aldermen to act in the best interests of the people.
"You eight people on this council, with the other elected officials have been chosen to make the decisions necessary to run this city, and I want you to do it!" she said.
Vassar said she believes the issue over the North Little Rock ordinance could have been resolved much more peacefully.
"What happened to visiting personally with an alderman or other elected official, or the designated committee to discuss the problem and possible solution? What happened to ‘working together toward a solution,’" Vassar asked. "It’s a sad day when a majority vote on something results in a petition drive, which includes the support of some aldermen who were on the losing side of the issue. You people have the responsibility to make the decision, and it’s not always going to be unanimous…. are we then going to have a ‘special election’ to start over each time?"
Vassar said there are some people in Sherwood who choose to air their frustrations in the public domain.
"Unfortunately, as of late, there have been a number of disgruntled, dissatisfied people who choose to air their displeasure in the media and now on social network devices, where they can be identified only by nicknames and such…. is it really fun to see your local problems aired on TV at 5, 6, and 10?" she said.
Vassar said the disharmony resulting from the North Little Rock Electric vote has some people asking questions about Sherwood.
"People want to know, ‘what on earth is happening in Sherwood?’ It appears that personal agendas and the need for individual attention has affected the body that has been so successful through the years in moving this city forward. I’m not asking you to be ‘friends’…. I certainly understand why that won’t happen, but I am asking you to recognize & respect the professional positions you’re in," she said.
Vassar said putting the electric issue on the public ballot would cost the city a significant sum of money.
"I’m also confused by the ‘claim’ that this group feels not enough study or research went into this decision. Well, I beg to differ…this procedure involved months, (at least since last summer, if not longer), of review with city officials, citizens, and provider representatives. A number of venues…publicized meetings, as well as facts, figures, and information were available. The Mayor then appointed a committee of citizens for further study who met several times, then reported back with a recommendation…all public and available action," said Vassar.
She added, "Charts, graphs, figures, comparisons, etc. can be confusing, and pretty much slanted so that they are all but impossible to understand, especially for the average person, but I truly believe an honest attempt was made to thoroughly study the issue and I’m confused by the chairman of this group, who by the way, is not a customer of North Little Rock Electric, who keeps insisting that more study was needed."
Vassar was referring to Sherwood resident Don Berry, who is the chairman of Citizens of Sherwood Together, also known as COST and is the group that led the petition drive.
Vassar said some in COST have other agendas.
"He then went on to say that some knowledgeable people who read the proposals weren’t sure of the details either. He was then joined by another spokesperson who also wants to return to debate the golf course issue in an attempt to divide the citizens even more," said Vassar.
Vassar said Sherwood has been moving for many years into the right direction and the city’s leadership should continue on the same path.
"Sherwood has an outstanding, top-notch park system, including that historic golf course, tennis courts, ball and soccer fields, swimming pools, a state of the art recreation center, with an indoor pool, neighborhood parks, Sherwood Forest, and an after-school program…all of this with manageable annual costs for excellent amenities that help attract people to move to Sherwood, as well as being a safe, attractive community. This city has been a success story since before its incorporation in 1948, and has continued to grow beyond projected estimates," said Vassar.