At a Saturday morning Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods meeting attended by about 20 people and one dog, Frank Scott Jr. spoke quickly, outlining his plans if he is elected mayor.
The candidate forum held at the Willie L. Hinton Neighborhood Resource Center gave Scott, along with three men running for the Ward 1 city director seat, a chance to answer residents' questions about crime, economic development and infrastructure.
"I think it's time for change, and I think it's time for a new era of leadership in Little Rock," said Scott, the 34-year-old vice president of First Security Bank.
Scott is one of four candidates running to replace Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola in November. Stodola has announced that he will not seek re-election. The city Board of Directors seats for Wards 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 are also on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The coalition also invited mayoral candidate Vincent Tolliver to speak, but he did not attend. Tolliver, 51, is a consultant for the Little Rock School District.
The other two mayoral candidates, Baker Kurrus and Warwick Sabin, addressed the group at previous meetings.
On Saturday, Scott gave the coalition a preview of an economic development plan that he said he will make public in the next two weeks. Though he acknowledged that Little Rock has an appointed city manager who controls all municipal programs, he said the mayor needs to be the driver of the city's economy.
"I'm not running to cut ribbons. I'm running to lead," he said.
Scott's ideas included having companies provide technical education and job training at community centers in the east and south ends of the city, maximizing the city's opportunities for civil rights tourism via historic preservation and eliminating food deserts by addressing why grocery stores won't locate in certain areas.
Ward 1 city director candidates Ted Adkins, Ronnie Jackson and Curtis Johnson also outlined their positions on issues and fielded questions. The ward covers a swath of east Little Rock and downtown. As of Friday afternoon, 14 people had picked up packets to run for that seat, including 88-year-old incumbent Erma Hendrix.
In addition to those at Saturday's forum, Danny Lewis, a 52-year-old Realtor and minister, and Herbert Broadway, a 59-year-old nightclub owner, have filed to run, pending a check on the number of register-voter signatures they have collected to qualify.
Adkins, a 52-year-old former Little Rock police officer, said experiencing the ward's lack of code enforcement and failure to keep up with development in the rest of the city is partly why he decided to run for office after retiring from his job in June.
"We have been left behind," he said of east Little Rock.
Jackson, 54, is president of the East Little Rock Neighborhood Association and works at the Capital Hotel. He noted problems in the ward, including the often-idle community center and the need for neighborhood association participation and unity.
Johnson, the 50-year-old interim executive director of operations at Arkansas Baptist College, emphasized his background in security with the Arkansas National Guard and Walmart. He pointed to his experience reducing the crime rate around the campus.
Attendees asked the candidates to address the ward's overgrown alleyways and crime, as well as the division of financial resources among wards.
Currently, city proceeds from its sales tax are split evenly among the seven districts to fund infrastructure projects. Jackson said the system of dividing funds should be revised because of the geographic size of Ward 1. Adkins and Johnson did not express support for changing the system but said the city should find ways to address the ward's specific needs.
"Our roads are not as good as they are in west Little Rock," Adkins said.
The deadline to file for a municipal position, which requires turning in at least 50 signatures from Little Rock registered voters, is Friday at noon.
The mayor position is full time and pays $160,000 a year. The mayor has an office in City Hall, presides over city Board of Directors meetings, and has veto and appointment powers. City board members are paid $18,000 annually. The mayor and directors serve four-year terms.
The coalition has invited all candidates to an Oct. 13 forum at City Hall. The event is to begin at 9:30 a.m. and be broadcast on city cable Channel 11.
Metro on 08/12/2018
Print Headline: Candidates address LR resources, crime