By Linda Kor
The Navajo County Fair Board will need to make a decision in the coming month as to whether to change their bylaws regarding member eligibility. With five seats up for election on Jan. 3, an existing loophole in the bylaws may change who can sit on the board and for how long.
The issue was brought to the attention of the board by Jimmy Crosby at its Nov. 1 meeting. He was elected to the board last January and has been the director over junior livestock since he was appointed to the board the year prior to that. Crosby recently moved from Snowflake to Round Valley, a move that also took him from Navajo County to Apache County. He explained that the move was work related and not one that he made by choice, asking if it would be possible for him to remain on the board and continue to serve as the junior livestock director.
The request was made because the board shared the understanding that according to the bylaws, if a board member moves from Navajo County, that member is no longer eligible to be on the board.
In presenting the matter, President Mike Sample pointed out that the bylaws, which were amended in 2010, state that in order to fulfill the obligation as a fair board member, that person must be at least 18 years of age and a bonafide resident of Navajo County. Also within those bylaws, bonafide is defined as an individual who has resided in Navajo County for no less than one year. According to Sample, the wording indicates that an individual does not have to be a current resident, just someone who at one time lived in Navajo County.
“Jimmy has resided in Navajo County for one year, so in my opinion he meets the qualifications. I think it’s a mistake to get rid of a good, hardworking board member. It may be a loophole as far as I read it, but he has two more years in his term and I’d like him to serve it,” stated Sample.
While in agreement with Crosby’s value to the board, Rusty DeSpain said he felt that to allow him to remain on the board would violate the spirit of the law. “This is nothing against Jimmy, who I consider a friend and an asset to the board. He can be superintendent of Junior Livestock and I’d agree to that, but we’re talking about corporate by-laws. If this was the Board of Supervisors, this couldn’t happen. The bylaws were governed by people who worked very hard. We shouldn’t interpret the bylaws as we want them to be to suit a given situation,” he stated.
Sample responded by stating that judges interpret laws all the time and do not circumvent them. “It says ‘has re-sided’ right there in the bylaws,” reiterated Sample.
DeSpain was not convinced by Sample’s explanation. “So anyone in the state can be on the board? I can go to Yavapai County and be on their fair board because I went to college there once? That was not the intent with which that was written. We can go by the letter of the law or the spirit of the law,” stated DeSpain.
Crosby, who appeared saddened over the discussion, stated, “I understand Rusty and I don’t take it personally. I have an emotional attachment to the Navajo County Fair. It’s a great fair because of all those who contribute to it. For me financially it would be stupid to stay on the fair board, but I want to; but I also don’t want division on the fair board. I won’t take the decision on this personally, but my personal desire is to stay.”
As Valerie Slade reviewed the passage in the bylaws she also noted that there was nothing in the five-page document that stated once a member moves out of the county that person would have to vacate his position on the board.
Sara Hansen asked if the board was governed by anyone, and whether they would be in trouble if they didn’t follow the bylaws as they were intended.
In response, Sample stated that it was possible that someone could complain to the Arizona Corporation Commission, but that the county had no jurisdiction.
DeSpain added that he believed the board was opening itself up to major problems if board members were to al-low this to take place.
It was also noted and commented on by several board members that although the bylaws specify that board members may not miss more than three meetings unexcused, several members have done just that without removal.
“We should be enforcing all bylaws all the time,” remarked DeSpain.
One board member asked why there couldn’t be board members who reside in other areas if they genuinely want to serve.
“They can serve. They can serve on committees. This is the Navajo County Fair for the residents of Navajo County,” DeSpain said.
The board approved a motion to allow Crosby to finish out his remaining term, with Trent Larson, Melissa Buckley, Valerie Slade, Kelly Favro and Leah Thomas voting for it, and Sara Hansen, Rusty DeSpain and Redgie Justman against it. Members not present were Jake Hatch, Susan Henning-Shaw, Terry Nelson, Wes DeSpain and Dale Rogers.
The board unanimously agreed that amending the bylaws would be a matter of discussion and possible action at the next meeting, scheduled on Thursday, Dec. 6.
Individuals seeking election to the board must submit a letter of interest to the fair board office by Thursday, Dec. 20. The letter may be sent to P.O. Box 309, Holbrook, Ariz. 86025, or brought to the office at 404 E. Hopi Drive in Holbrook. More information can be obtained by calling (928) 524-4757.
Each of the five vacancies have a term of three years. The terms that will expire with the new year include those held by Sample, Slade, Favro, Buckley and Rogers, with each of those terms are for three years.
In other business, the board approved an agreement with DeVries Certified Public Accountants in the amount of $1,000 to process the fair board’s tax return.
By Linda Kor