MAYFLOWER, Ark. — A candidate running for mayor of Mayflower has resigned from his other city positions following an ethics violation. Work performed by Danny Hester should have gone before the city council according to state law.
Hester submitted his resignation letter Monday, but the work in question was two months earlier. Hester’s company and another installed upgraded electrical access at the city park, but according to the city attorney they went about it the wrong way.
At Mayflower City Park Thursday, voter Carl Williams learned about the issue for the first time, but when he heard, this was his response.
“Why worry about the small things? Let’s look at the bigger picture,” Williams argued.
Big and small are both concerns for Mayflower City Attorney Dustin Chapman. He looks at nearly everything the city does in his role, including park upgrades performed by Jadster Properties LLC, a corporation managed and incorporated by former Parks Director and Planning Commission Chairman Danny Hester.
“What the law says in Arkansas is that we are not to supposed to have purchases and contracts with public officials unless an ordinance is passed by the city council approving that,” Chapman explained.
He continued. “In this case, there was no ordinance approving that, so we do have somewhat of an ethical conflict there.”
On top of the previous error, the total project costs exceeded the $10,000 price tag the mayor can negotiate without being required to ask for bids. Because two companies, Jadster Properties LLC and Elliot Electrical Supply, performed the job under two invoices for approximately $9,000 and $7,000, there were no bids.
Our station asked Danny Hester about the work, and he sent us a statement saying:
“Allow me to set the record straight…Here are the facts associated with the installation of electrical equipment/infrastructure at Mayflower’s City Park located on N. Railroad Ave.:
I was informed that “Badges and Burgers”, a Police Department fundraiser to be held at Mayflower City Park, was scheduled for June 25, 2022. Three music bands had been booked to perform, each band required electricity for their equipment, etc.. At the time, only a couple of electrical outlets were in place at the park and didn’t have the capacity to provide enough power for the band’s equipment needs, as well as being located a long distance from where they would be performing.
I was asked if I could get power installed in the park for this event, as well as future events similar to this one. The Mayor asked to see if I could keep the total material cost below $10k, as well as labor cost below $10k. After investigating costs, I informed the Mayor I could. I was told to go forward and install the electrical infrastructure. I was asked to present the total job in two (2) invoices, each below $10k.
I am a honest person and I did NOTHING WRONG. I’m proud of the electrical infrastructure we now have at the City Park. We needed this to have future events at the park that require electric power for “blow-up bounce houses”, food/vendor trucks, carnivals, musical bands, move nights, etc.. This is good for Mayflower, the possibilities of future events that we can now schedule at the park is limitless!
In summary, I was not aware of the two (2) rules that was not adhered to as related to this project, per City Attorney.
1). Any project over $10k requires competitive bids;
2). …, official (i.e. Chairman of Planning Commission) can not do business with the city unless approved by the city council.
I was told this park project was approved and go forward with the installation, and that’s what I did!!!”
Hester’s resignation letter for his appointed positions does not mention ethics violations but says he “wanted to eliminate any appearance of conflict of interest.”
Voter Norman Cassidy says actions speak louder than words.
“If he made that much of a violation, I won’t vote for him because he’s not trustworthy,” Canady stated. “We are a small town. We can’t afford no crooks.”
That’s not how everyone feels though.
Williams said, “Mistakes can be made. We’re only human. Just learn to forgive and forget, and we can all do better.”
Where the majority’s opinion lies will play out at the polls.
To avoid this happening again, the city drafted an ordinance requiring bids for any work costing more than $5,000. Original documents from the Danny Hester memo from the city attorney to the city council can be read in full .