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6/14/2013 6:01:00 AM
Watson's new mayoral role raises conflict of interest concerns
Janet Watson
Janet Watson
Gary Watson
Gary Watson

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter


KINGMAN - When Mayor John Salem leaves office mid-term to care for his ailing father this summer, Vice Mayor Janet Watson will hold the position at least until the last day of 2014, when Salem's term would have expired.

Since Watson's husband, Gary, is the District 1 Mohave County supervisor and chairman of the board, some in the community fret the two will have too much influence and the potential for conflicts of interest are too great.

The subject came up Wednesday night when Salem and Councilman Mark Wimpee were guest speakers at this month's meeting of the Mohave Republican Forum.

While the term conflict of interest has been bandied about as the chief concern of people who are leery of the Watsons serving as leaders in political office, it's important to define what that means.

"Conflict of interest has to do with monetary gain," said Gary Watson. "It seems ludicrous at this point since there are five people on my board and seven people on the City Council."

That's the point Wimpee made in defending the Watsons Wednesday. While the discussion during the question and answer period was civil, both Wimpee and Salem made efforts to stand up for the couple.

"I have all the faith in the world in Vice Mayor Watson," said Salem.

The mayor said the county and city don't share the same revenue pools in most cases.

"Even if there was a hint of a conflict of interest they both would abstain (from voting on an issue)," said Salem.

Supervisor Joy Brotherton, who was in the audience, said the county and city need to work more closely together.

"We've already had some say this is going to be a real problem," she said. "People view there's too much power in one place."

"I don't know how to comment on that," said Salem. "Neither of them would do anything to hurt the city, the county or another person."

Salem said he understands perception is reality, but there is no conflict.

When Brotherton asked if someone else on the City Council could fill the role of mayor, Salem said no.

"At this point, state statute says the natural order is the vice mayor becomes the mayor," he said.

Conflicts of interest, insofar as political office goes, apply only to personal benefit.

State law in essence says any public officer or employee, or relative of a public officer or employee, who has a "substantial interest in any contract, sale, purchase or service to such public agency shall make known that interest in the official record and shall refrain from voting upon or otherwise participating in any manner as an officer or employee in such contract, sale or purchase."

In layman's terms, public officials can't vote on any issue if the outcome means cash or something else of value will fall into their pocket.

"Whenever there is even an appearance of impropriety I would abstain from voting or participating, and so would Janet," said Gary Watson.

Janet Watson was out of state and not available for comment.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013
Article comment by: One More Thought

@ Kathy Ortman

"For those of you that don’t know, there have been Watson’s serving our Community, our County and State in Volunteer, Appointed and Elected Positions for the past 60 years."

Maybe there in is the problem with Kingman and why it is stagnating. Time for some new blood so we can move forward and catch up with the rest of the world.


Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2013
Article comment by: Just Saying

To all you discerning eyes out there that have known the Watson's for "A LONG TIME". In the last censuses, you know, the one that was used to re-district our County. Why do you think G Watson tried so hard to split Kingman the way he did? ummmm?

Posted: Saturday, June 15, 2013
Article comment by: Kathy Ortman

For those of you that don’t know, there have been Watson’s serving our Community, our County and State in Volunteer, Appointed and Elected Positions for the past 60 years. This has never been to gain power and position, they have all lived very modest lives, in fact Gary’s Mom “Marian Watson, a pillar of our Community” left this world recently in the same little house down town where she raised her kids and instilled in them the spirit of giving. When the Watson’s find a cause that needs help or an injustice that needs to be corrected, they step up to the plate to work on it.. If that’s not a good thing for our community I don’t know what is? I would say that since Gary & Janet have both been voted into office more than once, that the majority of our community see’s them as I do.. A Gift…

Posted: Saturday, June 15, 2013
Article comment by: John Bridges

So you're saying is that Watsons are dishonest and would vote for personal gains.
Well I have known Gary Watson for 45 years and Janet Watson for 25 years. Dishonest they are not!!!


Posted: Saturday, June 15, 2013
Article comment by: CONFLICT OF INTEREST

What part of conflict of interest doesn't the public understand. There are MANY qualified individuals that could be appointed to this interim position until there is an election. Why are we always defaulting to nepotism when it comes to filling these key positions in city and county vacancies? And why isn't there more concern raised by the sheeple? This is just ANOTHER pick-the-spouse or family member remedy. Sans the Vice Mayor title, Mrs. Watson should recuse herself, if for no other reason than sheer respectability. What a place! Time for a special election - on with the show.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Just Thinking

Kingman and Mohave County are fortunate to have Janet and Gary in their leadership roles. They are honest and have the integrity that many of their critics should aspire to emulate.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: patty hertz

Oh blah, blah blah to you all. When it comes down to it, you (yeah, and me too) will just shut our eyes and bleet like we're told. Baaaaa. (or Moooo). We're all like skeletons in this city, none of us really have any guts.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: janice palmer

hehehe....conflict of interest? naw, they wouldn't do that....ya think? should be interesting to watch.


Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: R.Eric Seaholm

Why not put in persons who were on the ballot in order of the voters ?

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: joker wilde

Watsonville, AZ.? Where have all the artichokes gone?


Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Schmo

The mayor's position is largely ceremonial. It's still just one of seven votes on the City Council. It matters little whether someone is the Mayor, Vice Mayor, or just a Council member. I don't see how changing titles creates a greater potential for a conflict of interest than what already exists.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Downtown Native

Exactly how is there a conflict of interest by having both Watsons in office on two totally separate government boards?

If anything, these two agencies might actually become more productive.


Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Just Saying

What good ole boy group? Not in our Kingman or County. It's just business a usual. Same people different day.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Knowledge Thirsty

This is Kingman and Mohave county we are talking about . There wont be conflict with them . The supervisors , mayor Representatives are all crooks anyway . They only look out for big business , government , themselves.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Stop Standing Up for Your Friends, Do What is Right

Wimpee, Salem, Brotherton and the Watsons need to stop defending the Watsons and do what is best for the city and county. The very appearance of impropriety diminishes the faith in both government entities.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Solution is Simple

Actually, Mr Salem since the vice-mayor position is selected by the council, the simple solution would be for Janet to step down as VM and for the council to elect another VM to become Mayor when Salem leaves.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: nothing new here

of course no conflict will emerge, this is normal and all will be fine...it's hot out there so have a big cool glass of kingman koolaid and relax.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: L J

They can appoint who ever but until the voice of the voters is heard her position is not valid!

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Are You Serious

"Whenever there is even an appearance of impropriety I would abstain from voting or participating, and so would Janet," said Gary Watson.

You would hope that to be true however a few months back the Mayor himself did not even follow those guidelines so what makes anyone think that would be the case this time?


Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Michael Dorman

To paraphrase Shakespear. There's too much ado about nothing.
Good luck to Mrs. Watson.


Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Rick Veradt

Did Gary Watson really say that a "conflict of interest" only pertains to monetary gains? I suggest Mr. Watson grab a dictionary, in fact a few of them, and re-read the meaning of the phrase. Money is just the most obvious of the definitions
The Watsons, Salem and Wimpee saying everything will be fine is like the fox saying "Don't worry about the hen house, I'll protect it..
Having a husband and wife in those positions is just asking for trouble. They don't have to do anything wrong. The conspiracy theorist are already uniting. Mr. Watson needs to resign his chairmanship...now! In fact he could resign from the B.O.S. and really mute the question of "conflict of interest" and make a lot of people happy.




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