City director David Allen spoke about his vision of the future for the city when he gave his director's report during the city board meeting on Tuesday, May 16.
Allen, while serving as vice mayor because of Mayor Judy Nation's vacation, answered a question posed by Kelsey Howard about what's the vision for the city of the four city board members who voted to terminate former City Administrator Phillip Patterson in early March.
Allen, who has been hesitant to address this in previous meetings, decided to speak to the issue. The four directors who voted to terminate Patterson's contract were Allen, Betsy Blair, Lesa Rissler and Ken Wiles.
"I refused to get into the weeds on the reasons for need and change of management," Allen said. "But I can assure the public not a single one of my reasons was founded on petty personal differences. My vision for our city's future is based upon the bedrock of what Siloam Springs has stood on for generations: Fairness to all, affordable cost of living, freedom to worship with almost any religion or church represented, equal treatment of all citizens with no playing favorites."
Allen also said he will stand by his previous platforms that he ran on in 2020. Allen said he supports lower utility rates because he believes the city went overboard in raising utility rates of all utilities every year.
"It took us from the lowest in the state to become nearly the highest," Allen said. "I believe we can afford to roll back some rates in the future. Affordable cost of living is a key component of the bedrock of our city, and that component got out of whack when we had a new CEO from a very liberal state that had a very high cost of living."
Allen also said he supports term limits for elected officials and has voluntarily chosen not to run again after two previous stints on the board as well as supporting regular people who often feel they have no voice with government and believe it is a waste of time to speak up.
"Being elected to this board is an honor and it comes with a directive to do what is best for all citizens, not what is best for city employees, or to make their job easier not to agree on everything that is brought up to spend taxpayer money," Allen said.
As a big supporter of infrastructure, Allen said he wants to maintain streets, which allow traffic and commerce to take place in the city. Allen quoted Patterson, who stated at a previous city board meeting, that the city got a little behind on spending for streets. Allen said streets got the short shift. Another issue Allen feels has been relegated to the back burner is drainage, he said.
"The amount of drainage problems that have been rising for several years have also been given less importance on the goal list because the city took its eyes off of a key reason we have a city, to provide the necessities of life that a citizen cannot provide alone by themselves." Allen said.
Governments and cities would not exist without people and people would not be here if not for God, Allen said. Allen also said he wants to see a return to the values that built Siloam Springs to become the home for nearly 18,000 individuals.
After adding a few more points, Allen added that his vision is also about values and the bedrock of values that built Siloam Springs into a fair city to become the independent safe home on the west side of Benton County.
"We don't need a slogan of 'Make Siloam great again,' but instead make Siloam even greater," Allen said.
After that statement Allen entertained a motion to adjourn the meeting.
This week's public comment also saw support for the four city directors who voted to terminate Patterson. Public comments did not come from any members of Unite Siloam, but instead a couple who voiced support for the four directors and urged citizens not to sign the recall petitions.
Rebekah Wyatt spoke first. Wyatt believes Unite Siloam has distorted the issue of Patterson's termination. When Allen made his motion to terminate, he stipulated that Patterson get all the benefits promised to him.
"Listening to Mr. Allen's tone led me to believe he wanted to send Mr. Patterson away in good standing," Wyatt said, "Even though the conservative members no longer felt he was the right fit for Siloam Springs."
She also pointed out that Patterson tried to end the debate in a letter to the editor of the Herald-Leader that it was clear the city board wanted to go in a different direction. Patterson's letter was in the April 5 edition of the newspaper.
Wyatt also said that the conservative members of the board were not only within their rights and fulfilling their responsibility to the conservative majority of the city that elected them. She called the idea of portraying the termination as some type of injustice or overstep by the board members ridiculous.
"In my opinion the individuals behind Unite Siloam present themselves as the fan club Mr. Patterson may have never wanted in portraying this as some dark and nefarious affair," Wyatt said.
She also said her husband, Kent Wyatt, was involved with six different city governments in four states and it was always a policy not to publicly discuss personnel matters.
"Those spearheading Unite Siloam may disagree politically with what's being done or what has been done," Rebekah Wyatt said, "but no wrong has been committed in any of these matters, in my opinion."
Rebekah Wyatt called it political marketing and believes what is really going on is Unite Siloam is trying to draw in people who would normally be conservative to help them break up the conservative majority.
Kent Wyatt spoke next about Unite Siloam and the petitions. He said Unite Siloam wants to recall all four of the directors but two are new and not eligible for recall. Siloam Springs is at a crossroads, Kent Wyatt said.
"Though this group of what appears to be left-leaning individuals is trying to make this all about the firing of Phillip Patterson as a city administrator," Kent Wyatt said, "I'm convinced that they're really worried ... the conservative board will vote in a new city administrator, who will be courageous enough to reject leftist agendas."
Kent said he and his family moved to Siloam Springs because of the city's conservative Christian values and has since seen the city flirt with what he calls the "woke and progressive side."
Like his wife, Kent Wyatt also spoke about Patterson's parting letter saying the conservative board members are looking for a different leadership.
"It is not some little thing that's at stake," Kent Wyatt said. "It's the slow erosion of communities. This is how states change, how nations change and eventually how we create the world that we're going to leave for our grandchildren."
Kent Wyatt concluded by encouraging anyone who signed one of the petitions and wants their name removed to contact the city clerk's office.
City directors also approved and heard the following items:
Workshop minutes for the May 2 workshop.
Regular meeting minutes for the city board meeting on May 2.
Resolution 27-23 concerning setting the hearing date for easement vacation for 224 and 302 S. College St.
Placing Ordinance 23-08 regarding the sale and use of fireworks in the city limits on its third reading and taking a separate vote to adopt the ordinance.
Placing Ordinance 23-10 regarding the rezoning the 2000 block of East Tahlequah Street from A-1 (Agriculture) to P-D (Planned development) on its second reading.
Placing Ordinance 23-11 concerning the annexation of 10 acres at 2603 S. Lincoln St on its first reading.
Placing Ordinance 23-12 regarding contracting with Sole Source on its first and only reading.
Placing Ordinance 23-13 concerning personnel authority of the board.