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Citing personal health reasons, incumbent Syracuse City Councilman Ben A. Thurgood announced he is withdrawing from the November election.

The 14-year council veteran said his recent legal problems, in which he pleaded no contest to an assault charge on a neighbor with whom he has been feuding for years, played a small part in his decision."I feel like I've been there long enough," Thurgood, 59, said. "I think I've served my term and done it well and I just felt that now was the time to get out," he said, adding that he wanted to go out "on top.".

"Of course, there's always the chance when you run that you'll get beat, and I didn't want to take the chance of going out like that. I'd rather withdraw and give someone else the opportunity to serve," he said.

On Sept. 26, Thurgood pleaded no contest in 2nd District Court to a third-degree felony aggravated assault charge stemming from a June incident near his property.

According to a Davis County sheriff's office investigation, Thurgood, 1731 W. 700 South, had an altercation the evening of June 14 with a neighbor, Jerry Weaver, 2000 W. 636 South.

Thurgood accused Weaver and 8-year-old Michelle Wilcox of riding their horses in his pasture along 1700 West. As the two rode along 700 South toward Weaver's home, according to deputies, Thurgood pursued them in his pickup truck, at one point brushing Weaver's mare with the truck.

That caused both horses to buck, deputies said, and both Weaver and the girl suffered minor injuries when they were thrown.

In his no-contest plea to a third-degree felony assault charge, Thurgood admitted driving his truck near the horses but not hitting them.

Judge Douglas L Cornaby approved a diversion agreement for Thurgood, allowing the no-contest plea to stand for a two-year period of probation. He fined Thurgood $100, ordered him to pay $400 restitution, and perform 20 hours of community service.

If Thurgood completes the two years of probation successfully, according to the agreement, the no-contest plea can be withdrawn and the charge dismissed.