New Granite Shoals ethics review commissioner appointed
The Granite Shoals City Council appointed a new member to the city’s Ethics Review Commission during its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 9. Brian Edwards will fill the place vacated by Seth Smith on April 29.
The commission was in the middle of investigating an ethics complaint against Mayor Aaron Garcia when Smith resigned, delaying a final hearing on the matter.
Because of the delay, the commission will be unable to meet a May 12 deadline established by the city’s Ethics Ordinance in rendering a decision, City Attorney Josh Katz told the council. According to the ordinance, the commission must hold a final hearing on a complaint within 30 days of a preliminary hearing, which was on April 12 in this case.
“The problem is, with the resignation of a member, it hasn’t been possible for the commission to schedule their final hearing yet,” Katz said. “Legally, it’s kind of an impossibility for them to have scheduled it so far. The ordinance does say that it should be scheduled as expeditiously as possible, so really, the sooner the better. We need to move forward.”
The three-member commission of Mark Morren, Jeff Kahl, and Seth Smith was appointed in 2022 to deliberate on an ethics complaint against Place 6 Councilor Phil Ort. The commission recommended the council censure Ort, who was accused of tampering with and falsifying public complaints concerning his proposed Dark Skies Ordinance.
Edwards addressed the council before the vote on his appointment.
“I’ve been on the Planning and Zoning Commission (in the past), and I’m a concerned citizen and I want to see responsible government,” he said. “That’s all I have to offer.”
Edwards was the only applicant for the position. The council briefly discussed the possibility of extending the application window or having councilors go out and recruit prospective applicants but ultimately decided to appoint Edwards.
Place 3 Councilor Samantha Ortis and Place 6 Councilor Ort shared their appreciation for the resigning commissioner’s work with the city.
“I know you’ve been a part of the parks committee and our associate municipal judge for a long time, and all of your efforts and the time you served and volunteered for our city, we’re very thankful to have had you,” Ortis told Smith.
Ort extolled Smith’s contributions to the Parks Advisory Committee.
“You’ve been an excellent leader in our city. I appreciate your service,” he said.
Mayor Garcia apologized to Smith for comments he made during the April 12 preliminary ethics hearing on the complaint filed against him. Garcia questioned the qualifications of all three commissioners during the hearing.
“I would like to extend my apologies for the comments I made, Mr. Smith, at the ethics committee meeting on April 12,” he said. “I apologize to you if anything was offensive about what I said, about not being qualified. Obviously, you are.”