City takes car keys from mayor after DWI charge

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) – Members of the Harrisburg City Council discussed a measure approved Monday night that revoked the privilege for Mayor Donald "Buzzy" Faulkner to drive city owned vehicles. Faulkner was charged by the Poinsett County Sheriff's Office August 20 with driving while intoxicated - second offense, careless/prohibited driving, left of center and no seat belt. City council members voted 6-0 Monday night in a special council meeting to revoke Faulkner's driving privileges.

"We were concerned about the mayor driving a city vehicle, whether he's working for the city or off hours," said Rose Brown, who represents Ward 4. "Our concern was the liability of the city. If something happened, the city could stand the chance of being sued."

According to City Clerk Pat King, Faulkner was not present at the meeting, as well as councilman Skeeter Blancato. The special meeting regarded the driving of city owned vehicles by Faulkner.

Lori Howton made a motion to "extinguish the right or privilege of the driving any city owned vehicle by Mayor Donnie Faulkner." Brown made a second motion.

"The mayor is supposed to be respected and when a person gets out and does that, whether it's the mayor or anyone, a lot of people loses their respect for that person," said Brown. "This made national news, not just here in Arkansas or even here in Harrisburg, people in Tennessee, everywhere."

Brown, Sandra Cooper, Fonda Eaton, Howton and Sonny McIntosh voted in favor of taking away the mayor's keys. Randy Mills abstained from the vote.

"Alcohol is bad and you get behind a wheel anything could happen and that just hurts himself, someone a child, anything," said Brown.

According to a narrative by the Poinsett County Sheriff's Office, Faulkner was pulled over on Highway 1 in Harrisburg at the Mapco Gas Station. Before a sheriff's deputy pulled over Faulkner's white Chevrolet Impala, he observed the driver driving in the wrong lane of traffic for approximately 250 yards. When Faulkner exited the vehicle, the narrative said he used the top of his car to keep balance. The officer noticed stains near the front left pocket, which appeared to have been some type of spit or possibly vomit, the report states.

"He's a good fellow. He is. I've always thought the world of the mayor and he's got a problem. If he can get that problem fixed, everything would be fine," said McIntosh. "If he gets out in his own vehicle, that's his business but what was our business is that he was driving a city vehicle, that's what we were concerned of."

The BAC Data Master used at the Marked Tree Police Department showed Faulkner had a blood alcohol content of .21, more than two times the legal limit. Faulkner will appear in Harrisburg District Court October 5.

According to the Poinsett County Sheriff's Office, Faulkner was also arrested March 26, 2007 on charges of DWI. He was found guilty in Trumann District Court in April after he pleaded guilty. He was recommended to take outpatient counseling services for one year after his conviction, the sheriff's office said.

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