Allegations of wrongdoing simmer to surface as Sunset race heats up

Aug 24 2013 - 1:36am

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Chad Bangerter
Ryan Furniss
Beverly Macfarlane
Chad Bangerter
Ryan Furniss
Beverly Macfarlane

SUNSET -- Illegal activity once thought to be buried involving the Sunset City Council is again rising to the surface as the Nov. 5 mayoral race in the city heats up.

But rather than the political punches being exchanged between the city's two mayoral candidates -- Councilman Ryan Furniss and challenger Beverly Macfarlane, the verbal sparring is between Furniss and Macfarlane supporters, including resident Elizabeth Loyola and Sunset Mayor Chad Bangerter.

Sunset residents are disappointed in the current council's ability to work together, and that the council in January of 2012 violated state code when they opposed mayoral recommended appointments to the different boards in which council members serve and made their own appointments instead, Bangerter claims.

Furniss contends there is nothing illegal that took place.

"(Bangerter) made recommendations. We said 'No,'" Furniss said of the council. "It was an administrative issue. There was nothing illegal about it."

But Bangerter contends the council members who made their own appointments did break the law, and stood by it, when they rejected the mayor's recommendation for rotating the board appointments.

"It took my ability of appointment away from me that is protected by state law," said Bangerter, who claims he was challenged based on some board appointments paying more money than others, particularly the board assignment to the North Davis Sewer District which pays $5,000 a year.

That board assignment is currently held by Furniss.

Furniss said that issue has been resolved by the Sunset City Attorney through a compromise, and the only reason Bangerter is bringing it up now is because at one time he was called on the carpet by the council after abusing the authority of his office, which included receiving personal compensation for repairing city vehicles and city equipment.

"The point is I didn't break the law. They did," said Bangerter, owner of an auto restoration shop.

But it wasn't Bangerter who breathed new life into the old council controversy.

Loyola, a neighbor to Macfarlane, reintroduced the old appointment issue to the public through a letter to the Standard-Examiner.

Loyola in her letter indicated Macfarlane will get Sunset back in order, referencing what she termed illegal activity.

What fired her up to write her first letter to the Standard-Examiner was an earlier letter that Furniss had submitted to the newspaper, deflecting blame for the issues the council has experienced over the last few years, and his ability to regain appointment to the sewer board by bullying Bangerter.

"Citizens are upset over the council not getting along," said Loyola, who also said Macfarlane will make the council abide by the rules.

But Furniss maintains the resolution for the board appointments has been resolved, with Bangerter having signed the resolution making the appointments official.

"All minutes are public record. All actions are public record," Furniss said of Loyola's claim of illegal activity.

The claims being made are small-town politics at its finest in trying to discredit others, Furniss said in a letter to the Standard-Examiner.

"If there was something illegal happening in any way, shape or form, the Davis County Attorneys office and our own city attorney would not tolerate it, nor would city staff, the mayor and five separate council members," he said.

It is disingenuous to make such accusations, Furniss said of Loyola, who has not been to a council meetings the entire time Furniss has been in office.

Furniss said Macfarlane and he are friends and he believes it is safe to say she wouldn't want their race to result in negative campaigning.

Macfarlane said she had no idea Loyola, whom she knows, was going to make such a claim in a letter. "I did not know she was going to write the letter," she said.

But according to Macfarlane, Loyola is not the first person to bring the issue of illegal activity by the council to her attention.

"Some people recognize that stuff is going on and that they don't want it in their city," she said.

Regarding her relationship with Furniss, Macfarlane said, they are "friends" and she is aware they will have to work together should she capture the office of mayor because Furniss still has two years remaining on his second four-year council term.

"My only thing with the council is that we just need to work together," she said. "It is not a good thing to keep these things going."

In the Aug. 13 primary, Macfarlane received 329 votes, or 65 percent of all ballots cast in the mayoral race. Furniss placed second, with 141 votes, or nearly 28 percent of the vote.

Councilman Kevin Snow, the third mayoral candidate, received 7 percent of the primary vote and was eliminated from the race.

With only 21.7 percent of the city's registered voters casting ballots in the primary, Furniss said, he remains hopeful there is room for him to make up the difference in the vote margin.

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