Thornton steps down as Seligman mayor

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bringing Harp’s, jobs to town biggest contribution

Seligman Mayor Garry Thornton has stepped down from his position with the city.


Thornton resigned at a board meeting on July 25, albeit reluctantly, citing medical reasons for his decision.

He was elected as mayor in April 2016 for a one-year term. The following April, he was elected for a two-year term, but was unable to fulfill the position due to being hospitalized before the election.

Thornton served the city in several capacities, first working as a police officer in 2010, then serving as police chief from 2011-2014. After resigning from chief, he worked as an officer for Cassville from May 2014, until resigning on July 24, 2017, for the same reasons.

“I hated to resign,” Thornton said. “I thank all the people who voted for me and want them to know it was for medical reasons, not because of the job.”

Thornton was hospitalized for nearly four months, and he was in a medically-induced coma for several weeks.

“They reelected me as mayor while I was in my coma, which really surprised me,” he said.

Thornton woke from the coma about seven weeks ago, and since then and being released from the hospital, has had a long row to hoe.

“A new antibiotic from Alaska was flown in, and that’s what saved my life,” he said. “I had to relearn how to do several things, like walking. I had to use a walker initially, but not now.”

Thornton tried to continue fulfilling his duties as mayor, but with new, ongoing medical and physical therapy appointments to keep up with, and relocating to be closer to his doctors, it just wasn’t practical.

“When I woke up, Brian [Nichols] would talk to me and keep me informed of what was going on,” he said. “With my doctor appointments, there was no way I could continue. I have to be close to my medical team right now.”

Thornton made several contributions as mayor, keeping his original campaign promises, which were to continue the growth trend the city has seen in recent years and find another retailer to occupy the vacant Walmart building to bring tax revenue and jobs back to the city.

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I got Harp’s into town, which brought 20-30 jobs. I called them and they were trying to decide where to go, and I got them to come to Seligman. Harp’s bought a lot of the Walmart stores when they closed.

“I enjoyed solving problems for people in the community, he said. “Like the trash service, we made a temporary contract with Republic Trash Services until the contract with Southwest Sanitation runs out. We also put in a new walking path and new playground equipment.”

Probably what he enjoyed most was the community.

“I love the town and the people,” he said. “I just love working with the community. Maybe when I heal up and the doctors release me, I’ll run for mayor again.”

Now, he is just taking one day at a time and trying to adapt to many new circumstances.

“Everything is still fresh and new to me, since waking up,” said Thornton, who is living in Monett where he is from with his three children. “My 15-year-old son, Cameron, helps me out a lot.”

He also has seven-year-old daughter, Haylie, and 23-year-old, Alisia.

Cassville Police Chief Dana Kammerlohr said Thornton provided valuable service to the Cassville community.

“Officer Thornton worked overnights for several months then he came to the day shift,” she said. “He was very loyal to the department. He was a dependable officer and worked hard. On his routine patrols, he would talk to the young people and give them treats. That is going a step above for community policing. He would put a smile on your face throughout the work day, and will be missed.”

Seligman Alderman Michael Avers is currently serving as mayor pro tem of the city. The mayor’s seat will be up for election in April 2018.

Nichols, Seligman city clerk, did not respond to questions for comment.

“The city council is talking about choosing someone [as mayor] or having a special election,” Thornton said.

Due to being out of work, hospitalized for nearly four months and in a coma for weeks, Thornton is trying to regain his footing, heal, and take care of his family, while navigating numerous medical appointments and facing an uncertain future. He asks others to keep him in their thoughts and prayers.

If anyone would like to help Thornton during this time, they can call 417-669-2750.

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