By John Clark
The mayor of Grand Island, Nebraska was arrested this week for drunk driving, continuing a long history of public officials who have stepped behind the wheel after having too many drinks.
According to a report this week from the Grand Island Independent, the town’s mayor, Jay Vavricek, was arrested this weekend for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Reports indicate that Vavricek, a 60-year-old politician, was booked into the Valley County Jail on Saturday night, but was released shortly thereafter after posting his bond.
In a statement released earlier this week, the mayor was he was “sorry and embarrassed for the events that have occurred in the last 24 hours.”
“I apologize to my family, those dependent on me, and my community, and will take corrective action so they will never be affected like this again,” concluded the mayor.
The mayor’s new need for a personal DUI attorney comes as a surprise after he had developed a great deal of trust among the community, according to sources.
Sources note that Vavricek had released his personal cell phone number on flyers last week that were sent to several residents of Grand Island. The flyers had encouraged town residents to become more involved in local government decisions, sources say.
Of course, the mayor has been arrested, but he hasn’t yet been convicted on a DUI charge. Sources say the results of a blood test, which could exonerate the mayor, have yet to be released.
City officials, however, have refused to further address Vavricek’s arrest. In a written statement, city officials said “city staff have no comment” since the arrest “is a personal matter.”
One city official, though, did briefly express disappointment in the mayor’s actions. Bob Niemann, the president of the city council, said the mayor sees the incident as “unfortunate, and so do I.”
Only time will tell whether the DUI arrest will strike a fatal political blow for Vavricek, who was first elected mayor in Grand Island in 2002, when he served a four-year term that was widely viewed as a success.
After leaving the mayor position voluntarily, Vavricek ran for a state congressional seat, which he lost. After a four-year absence from political office, Vavricek was elected to his second term as Grand Island’s mayor in 2010.
But the second term hasn’t gone as smoothly as the first, sources say. Vavricek was formally censured by the city council last summer after firing the city’s administrator, and a movement to recall the mayor a few months ago gained widespread support before eventually failing.