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Monday, May 20, 2024

Walker Addresses City Council


Immediately after Mansfield’s Mayor, Larry Austin called the regularly scheduled Mansfield City Council meeting to  order for August, City of Mansfield Recorder/Treasurer, Becky Walker asked the council if she could address an issue after several concerns were raised. Due to this issue not being on the agenda, the council gave Walker permission to address the council.
The issue was on a personal level that concerned herself and Mayor Austin and on behalf of some of the city’s employees.
According to Walker, an incident had taken place on this day (August 17th, 2017) that involved two of the Public Works Department employees. These two employees had gone to Pine Bluff to test for a Commercial Drivers’ License in the garbage truck and had broke down.
After trying to reach Mayor Austin to see what to do, and not being successful, the Public Works Interim Director called Walker and asked for help. Walker, then started calling the two employees that were broke down and asking their whereabouts, etc. After speaking to the two on several occasions, she was finally able to get a hold of Mayor Austin.
Austin asked Walker, “Becky, why are they calling you?” Walker’s replied, “Because you had not called them back”. Walker then gave Mayor Austin their contact number. Walker called the two employees back to make sure Mayor Austin had contacted them but he still had not.
Apparently, Austin had wrote the number down wrong or had misdialed. After waiting a few minutes, Walker called the employees back and was told then that the Mayor was not happy with the one (Walker) that was making decisions and he would take care of this issue tomorrow (Friday).
Walker then commented by saying that she tried discussing the issue with the Mayor before the council meeting but was told by Austin that “He did not have time to talk to her and that they would discuss this tomorrow”
Walker knew that she would be alone with the Mayor on Friday and that if the council meeting did not go “his way,” then he does not speak to her and does not give her time to even hear her out. Walker told the council that she felt as though she was being “bullied” and so were the employees.
She went on to say that Austin is intimidating, and most employees, even citizen’s call her first instead of him.
Walker expressed to the council that the Mayor’s intimidation tactics, and poor attitude has been going on for a long time and that she had had enough. She felt as though she was speaking up for several employees who also feels intimidated by Mayor Austin.
Council Member, Sheri Hopkins was quick to defend Walker and asked Mayor Austin, You do know Becky does not answer to you, and you are not her boss, right?” Austin replied, Yes, I know that.”
Austin defended himself stating, “I am the administrator, and these allegations are not totally truthful.” Walker quickly responded, “Are you calling me a liar?” Austin replied, “No!”
After several attempts of ending Walker’s public statement, Mayor Austin’s request to “move on” was denied with questions and statements from council members. The Council as a whole addressed the situation, and ultimately went into the regularly scheduled meeting. But, occasionally referred back the initial conversation with questions.
Austin was unable to hide his frustration as it was plainly visible.
Walker’s position is the same that of the Mayor’s; both are determined by the voting public and one does not have powers over the other, and vice versa. When asked that if she felt bullied, Walker agreed, “Yes. It’s also discrimination.”
Walker’s statements echo a large population of unhappy opinions regarding the Mayor’s demeanor towards City employees, residents and how business is conducted on a daily basis.
Council Member, Rick McDaniel stated “We can’t have this continue. Our city has a lot to offer, and we don’t need another black cloud hovering over our progress.”
After several attempts. Mayor Austin was unavailable for comment.

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