Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AN EXECUTIVE DECISION; Glynn Elections Board Hears Conflict-of-Interest Challenge Brunswick Mayoral Candidate Bean Says Her Opponent Should Not Be on Ballot

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

AN EXECUTIVE DECISION; Glynn Elections Board Hears Conflict-of-Interest Challenge Brunswick Mayoral Candidate Bean Says Her Opponent Should Not Be on Ballot

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON

BRUNSWICK -- Brunswick mayoral candidate Bryan Thompson asserted Wednesday he would have no conflict of interest by serving as mayor and working as president and chief executive officer of Blueprint Brunswick.

Thompson's was the briefest testimony during the Glynn County Board of Elections' two-hour hearing on a challenge by write-in mayoral candidate Betsy Bean. Bean claims Thompson would be acting as his own boss at Blueprint should he be elected mayor.

Blueprint Brunswick's bylaws include a provision that the mayor of Brunswick or someone the mayor designates serve on Blueprint's 20-member board of directors. Even should he choose not to serve, Thompson would have influence over the position, Bean argued.

"A public official has a public trust and cannot be in a position to oversee their own employment,'' Bean said.

Bean also argued that because the city has paid Blueprint Brunswick more than $100,000 in start-up costs, Thompson already is being paid with public money.

Thompson should be left off the ballot because the almost certain conflicts between his job and the mayor's office would compel him to leave office, Bean argued.

"I don't want to run two campaigns and the city shouldn't have to pay for two elections,'' she said.

Thompson's lawyer, Austin Catts, told the elections board that Bean is trying to persuade the board to remove Thompson from the ballot on the basis of a hypothetical situation.

"All Mrs. Bean is doing is trying to get the board to speculate that sometime in the future a conflict of interest will arise and Mr. Thompson won't act ethically,'' Catts said.

Thompson testified that Blueprint Brunswick has provisions to deal with conflicts of interest and that he approved of them.

Blueprint Brunswick is a private, non-profit agency with a mission of revitalizing Brunswick. All of its board members live or have business interests in Brunswick, Thompson said.

The five-member Board of Elections is scheduled to meet again Monday to render a decision on Bean's and one other challenge and to conduct a hearing on the candidacy of Elaine Brown, another mayoral candidate. …

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