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FARMINGTON — A draft resolution stating support for human life starting at conception drew a large crowd to the Farmington City Council chambers until the audience overflowed the chambers and filled the lobby. 

This resolution was withdrawn during the Oct. 8 council meeting on a 3-2 vote.

The majority of the crowd supported the resolution, but a significant number of people showed up in opposition.

What was included in the resolution?

The resolution included broad language supporting human life, including people with addiction, children in foster care and homeless people.

“This resolution, no matter how you read it, is about love,” Councilor Sean Sharer said. “Love for our neighbors, love for our enemies and love for the most vulnerable among us and I believe it is our moral obligation to take care of our neighbors. I hope we all can at least agree upon this one very simple fact.”

The controversial sections of the resolution stated that life began at conception and that the city was resolved to protect all human life, including the lives of the unborn.

“I know that not everyone in the room or in the town can stand up and agree with every word that I’ve written in this resolution,” Sharer said. “However I do know that there is a cause that we can all get behind. This is a call to action for our whole community. Feed someone who’s hungry, clothe someone who’s naked, visit someone who’s lonely. Donate, volunteer, pray for the cause that you can stand behind. Human life is precious, all of it. Every life has value. So come together in our community and join in loving our neighbors.”

Why was it withdrawn from the agenda?

“On a very personal level, I support those same exact things,” said Mayor Nate Duckett. “I think it would be hard for many people in this room not to support those same things.”

He said the resolution was well done and commended Sharer and the city attorney for their work drafting it. Duckett said he also helped with some of the wording of the draft resolution.

Nevertheless, Duckett made the motion to have the resolution withdrawn from the agenda.

“I don’t think it’s germane to what our duties are as a locally-elected body,” Duckett said. “If it’s a state body, if it’s a federal body, maybe we can make those grandstand statements.”

Duckett said he does support life and hopes that everyone in the community also supports life.

“All of us have a mission to go out and spread that and talk about it and make it a point in our lives that we are spreading joy and love,” he said while making the motion to withdraw the resolution from consideration.

How did the City Councilors vote?

The motion resulted in a tie vote, leading the mayor to cast his vote breaking the tie. The mayor only votes when there is a tie. Councilors Janis Jakino and Linda Rodgers voted to withdraw the draft resolution while councilors Sharer and Jeanine Bingham-Kelly voted to hear the resolution.

Each councilor gave a statement prior to the vote. 

Janis Jakino: “I am a pro-life Christian and, while I agree that the subject before us is of great magnitude, this venue is not the appropriate place to consider such a matter. This elected body has no effective law on the statements outlined nor the positions alluded to in this proposed resolution. The energy and resources of this council should be focused on the policies on which we do have jurisdiction. This council has a specific purpose and putting forth politicized, special-interest resolutions is not conducive to building and sustaining public trust.”

Linda Rodgers: “I ran for City Council because I wanted to help my community remain a great place to live. The primary responsibilities of the City Council are to ensure public safety, provide infrastructure, develop parks, provide stability or repair streets, to name a few. I took an oath to uphold the laws of the land whether I agree with them or not. That is my job as an elected official. Regardless of where I stand on this issue, is there really anything to be gained by selecting issues that are polarizing or contentious at both the local and national levels, taking sides and then passing city-wide resolutions? I am in support of life. Human life is valuable...we should all resolve that it is such. With that said, I feel that the City Council needs to avoid inserting itself into these controversial topics by adopting resolutions that are divisive and have no legal standing or will not result in any material change. The City Council is not the place for these arguments because of that lack of jurisdiction or authority over any socially divisive issues.”

Sean Sharer: “I was hoping that we could come together here and agree on some points. I really did try to write a resolution about love. Love for your neighbor, love for your community. I worked very hard to try to make something that everyone could be proud of. I know I’m pro-life. I’m unashamed of being pro-life. I know some people aren’t and I understand that. That’s why I tried to use words in here that everybody could get behind. I love Farmington. I grew up here. Everything about this community I love and I Was trying to write something that expressed that love for my community.”

Jeanine Bingham-Kelly: “I find it interesting that ... it was said that this does not apply to City Council, but yet here we all are discussing this matter. I’ve had overwhelming support for this resolution and I support it.”

What did the mayor say?

Duckett made a statement at the beginning of the meeting. He said while the resolution was broad, the language about the unborn and life beginning at conception could be divisive.

“Maybe those are things that for you are not an issue,” Duckett said while addressing the crowd. “Maybe life beginning at conception is a fact, is a scientific fact and that’s reality. But maybe it’s different for someone else.”

Duckett said he has made it his mission not to get involved in divisive subjects.

“We are a local government body,” Duckett said. “We have a very different set of rules and a contract with you all as voters in the city. We have a different responsibility than getting involved in subjects in which we have no control over whatsoever.”

Duckett said if the resolution did pass he did not know if it would be anything other than a symbolic gesture stating that the City Council would govern in a way that promotes human life, which the it already does.

He said the lives of the unborn was at the center of the resolution.

“We’re not talking about the elderly that we need to support,” he said. “We’re not talking about the unfortunate innocent lives that are in foster care right now or spending nights in Childhaven — the children who need us. They need us and they’re alive right now and we can do something about that.”

What was the reaction from the community?

The people who attended the meeting had mixed reactions to the decision.

Some said they were glad the City Council chose to withdraw the resolution because it was divisive and the City of Farmington does not have jurisdiction over access to abortion. Others said they were disappointed in the decision.

“We expect our government officials, no matter their level, to stand beside their beliefs,” said Katelyn Cardenas, the Respect Life coordinator for Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Farmington.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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