Helper mayor resigns following third DUI arrest
The mayor of Helper resigned Saturday morning following his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving the day before his second during his term.
The Helper City Council and Mayor Dean Armstrong, released from the Carbon County Jail, met Saturday and the mayor, after offering a prepared statement, resigned effective immediately. The council accepted his resignation, said city attorney Gene Strate.
The council had already given Armstrong a second chance following his 2011 arrest for driving under the influence. Armstrong was arrested again Friday afternoon after a minor accident on Main Street in Helper, in which no one was injured, said Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Lawrence Hopper. A field Breathalyzer test indicated Armstrong's blood alcohol level was .169, Hopper said. Under Utah law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level above .08.
"I have determined that I can no longer adequately perform the duties of mayor," Armstrong, 51, wrote in his statement, according to Strate. "Instead, I will turn my focus toward taking care of my family, my health and my business."
Armstrong, who owns a market that specializes in meats and baked goods, noted in his statement that he's saddened that he cannot complete his term, though he feels that the city administration has improved Helper in the past several years. "The people of this community are strong, and it has been my honor and privilege to have served you," Strate read from the letter.
Armstrong was elected to a four-year term in 2010. Strate said he still needs to review the process for replacing him, since this is the first resignation by a Helper mayor that he can recall. Helper is a town of about 2,000 residents roughly 120 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.
Armstrong started a lot of projects with the council, including big improvements to the water and sewer systems that the city has needed for 70 years, said council member Kirk Mascaro. Mascaro will serve as mayor pro tem, a position he already held so that he could act in Armstrong's place if the mayor couldn't attend a meeting.
"Mayor Armstrong has been, I feel, somewhat of an asset putting Helper City on the map, and we've got to move on right now. I've got to fill those shoes," Mascaro said. "We're going to move on, move forward and it's not just Mr. Armstrong, the whole council will be getting these projects completed."
Armstrong's first DUI arrest in office was in November 2011, also by the UHP, court records show.
In May 2012, Armstrong pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charges of impaired driving, open container/drinking alcohol in a vehicle, and failing to stop or yield to a traffic sign, court records show. A judge suspended any jail time and placed Anderson on one year of probation. The terms of probation included a fine. Armstrong also was ordered to wear an ankle monitor for 60 days. The monitor was removed in September, jail records show.
Helper's council met following the 2011 arrest but took no action against Armstrong, Mascaro said.
Court records also indicate that Armstrong pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence in June 1991 in Salt Lake City. He received a suspended jail sentence and was ordered to perform community service, pay a fine and attend alcohol counseling, the records show. An additional charge of negligent collision was dropped.