By Paul Gable
During his campaign to fill the unexpired term of former Conway City Council member Alex Hyman, Autry Benton used the campaign slogan “Conway First.”
Benton was successful in his special election bid and was sworn into office on July 17, 2023. Benton proved to be one of the very few politicians who keeps his campaign promises.
Benton announced last month that he wanted to cancel the contract between his company, Benton Concrete and Utilities LLC, and the City of Conway. Benton’s concrete company was contracted by the city, to perform sidewalk maintenance and repair prior to Benton’s run for office,
According to the provisions of the state ethics law pertaining to elected officials, it would have been entirely legal for Benton to continue the contract with the city. All he would have had to do as a council member was recuse himself from any council discussion about the contract or about sidewalk maintenance.
Instead, Benton said he took this unusual action to eliminate any possible questions about conflict of interest with his council position or any possible questions about whether he was using his position in public office to profit with his private business. In fact, by cancelling the contract, it is estimated that Benton turned away in excess of $600,000 in income for his business.
Benton said he wants to be able to participate in all council discussions about issues affecting the city.
Too many politicians today make all kinds of promises to voters that they have no intention of keeping. For many it is an ego thing to hold elected office, promoting themselves with vague statements about how they are the best choice or the only candidate with the right direction for the governmental agency. For others, there are opportunities to benefit, at least indirectly, from holding public office.
Benton is running for reelection to a full four-year term in the upcoming November 7, 2023 election. By this action, he has proved that his goal in office is to serve the citizens of Conway, not himself.