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story.lead_photo.caption Mayoral candidates Frank Scott, Jr., left, and Baker Kurrus, share a laugh outside a polling place in Little Rock's Hillcrest neighborhood Tuesday morning. - Photo by John Sykes Jr.

Frank Scott Jr., a banker and associate pastor raised south of an interstate that divides Little Rock by race and economic status, was elected mayor of Arkansas' capital city Tuesday.

His win marks the first time Little Rock has popularly elected a black mayor.

Scott's competition in the runoff election for the city's top political office was attorney and business consultant Baker Kurrus, after the Nov. 6 general election narrowed the field of five candidates to two.

On Tuesday, Scott took a sizable lead early on, and Kurrus conceded about 8:30 p.m., shortly after early votes and absentee ballots were counted.

Election day voters narrowed the margin, but Scott's victory was clear.

With all precincts reporting, the unofficial vote totals were:

Scott 22,622

Kurrus 16,282

Scott, 35, has served on the state Highway Commission and was a senior adviser to former Gov. Mike Beebe. During his campaign, Scott stressed unifying what many see as a divided city and creating more job opportunities. He grew up and still lives in southwest Little Rock, which encompasses some of the city's poorest areas.

Addressing a cheering crowd at his watch party at Cajun's Wharf, Scott thanked voters and volunteers.

"I thank you. For every text message and phone call, I thank you," he said. "And for the voters who did not vote for us, I want to earn your support."

Little Rock mayoral race map
Little Rock mayoral race map

Scott is the third black candidate to be elected to a high-profile office in Pulaski County this year. Eric Higgins was elected county sheriff in May, becoming the county's first black sheriff, and Terri Hollingsworth was elected circuit/county clerk in November.

Little Rock has had two black mayors before, both of whom were elected city directors who later were chosen for the post by fellow board members. The city of nearly 200,000 is approximately 42 percent black.

Kurrus, the former state-appointed superintendent of the Little Rock School District, did not return a phone call seeking comment on the election. Social media posts from his campaign thanked his volunteers, supporters and staff.

This year's election drew national attention, with Scott gaining endorsements from Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and activist Shaun King.

Current Mayor Mark Stodola announced in May that he would not seek a fourth term. Stodola, 69, will leave the office he has held for nearly 12 years in January.

Scott was the top vote-getter in the general election, but he fell about 3 percentage points shy of the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff in accordance with state law.

Kurrus, 64, pulled about 29 percent of the vote in November. He outraised and outspent Scott during the campaign, reports filed with the Pulaski County clerk show. Both raised additional sums of more than $100,000 in the weeks leading up to the runoff.

In a recent interview, Scott said the race spoke to the importance of a "people-powered campaign" with an emphasis on getting people to the polls and gathering support from every ZIP code in the city.

The message of change resonated early on in the campaign, Scott said in his victory speech.

The 2018 mayoral race also marked the first without an incumbent since the city strengthened the office. In 2007, voters approved an ordinance giving the once-ceremonial position additional powers.

The passage of ordinance No. 19761 made the mayor a full-time position with authority over issues including preparation of the city budget, as well as veto power. The ordinance states that the mayor "shall be compensated with a salary and benefit package comparable to the highest ranking municipal official." The current salary is $160,000; it was $36,000 in 2006.

The mayor presides over city Board of Directors meetings but votes only in the event of a tie. If the mayor does not break the tie, the resolution in question fails.

Baker Kurrus talks to Frank Scott Jr., Tuesday night from his watch party to congratulate Scott on winning the Little Rock mayor’s runoff election.
Baker Kurrus talks to Frank Scott Jr., Tuesday night from his watch party to congratulate Scott on winning the Little Rock mayor’s runoff election.

Little Rock's current form of government of seven city ward representatives, three at-large board seats, a directly elected mayor and a city manager was approved by voters in 1993.

Scott will preside over a board that is on the whole older than him -- the youngest current member is 50 -- and has years of government experience.

[2018 ELECTION: Full Democrat-Gazette coverage of Arkansas races]

All incumbent board members whose terms were up in November won their bids for re-election. Of the 10 members, seven have served for more than a decade. Three have been on the board for more than 20 years.

Kathy Webb, the vice mayor and Ward 3 representative who was first elected to her seat in 2014, congratulated Scott on Twitter shortly after 9 p.m.

Frank Scott Jr. hugs family and friends at his watch party Tuesday night at Cajun’s Wharf. “I thank you. For every text message and phone call, I thank you,” he told supporters. “And for the voters who did not vote for us, I want to earn your support.”
Frank Scott Jr. hugs family and friends at his watch party Tuesday night at Cajun’s Wharf. “I thank you. For every text message and phone call, I thank you,” he told supporters. “And for the voters who did not vote for us, I want to earn your support.”

"The long campaign is over; it's time to work together to move this city we love forward," Webb wrote.

Among the first issues facing the city in the coming year are the hiring of a new police chief, managing a tight budget and studying the city's form of government.

Scott will take office Jan. 1.

At the end of his election night speech, Scott said he was reminded of a verse from the Book of Esther. The Old Testament story tells of an adoptee in the king's palace who enjoyed the pleasant surroundings but found she had a job to do, he said.

"You shall not remain silent for such a time as this," the future mayor quoted. "So if you believe it's time to unify Little Rock, let's join this movement. It. Is. Time."

Little Rock mayor’s race runoff vote totals by precinct
Little Rock mayor’s race runoff vote totals by precinct

A Section on 12/05/2018

Print Headline: Little Rock voters choose Scott over Kurrus for mayor

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Comments

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  • condoleezza
    December 5, 2018 at 8:55 a.m.

    Razrbak. Any proof or is this just drunken gossip? Yeah, that's what I thought.

  • Skeptic1
    December 5, 2018 at 8:56 a.m.

    Great, one feckless mayor for another, this city just cannot get it together. Watch him fill cushy tax payer funded seats with his buddies.

  • condoleezza
    December 5, 2018 at 9 a.m.

    JIMINYC56. Who cares about his religion? This is a city, not a church. I voted for him because of hie experience under Beebe, among other concerns. Openly Christian politicians like Jason Rapert are dangerous and embarrassing. I just want our new mayor to focus on the job. And I think he will.

  • condoleezza
    December 5, 2018 at 9:03 a.m.

    SKEPTIC1. Way to give him a chance! Whatever he does, it can't be worse than the fact-and-truth-challenged Trump surrounding himself with family and criminals (or is that redundant?).

  • Skeptic1
    December 5, 2018 at 9:16 a.m.

    condoleezza...maybe you should have done some research on him before jumping on his wagon. My predictions are more murders, crime, and he'll leave the city with massive debt.

  • GeneralMac
    December 5, 2018 at 9:23 a.m.

    TITLEIST asks, " can the Black mayor decrease crime" ?

    Barack HUSSEIN Obama's buddy didn't have much luck in Chicago.

    Two other crime infested cities , Pine Bluff Arkansas and East St Louis went even one step farther in being "pc" by electing BOTH a Black and a female.

    I doubt either of those will ever turn into a crime free utopia..

    One advantage of a Black mayor is when they TRY to take measures to lower crime,you won't hear the chants of "racism","racism" from the Black community.

  • condoleezza
    December 5, 2018 at 10:16 a.m.

    Skeptic1. Maybe you should offer some actual evidence to back your claims. Or do you just have one of those famous "hunches" like your chronically lying President? I notice that you did not dispute that he surrounds himself with criminals/family members on the "cushy tax payer funded" dime. ;-)

  • condoleezza
    December 5, 2018 at 10:41 a.m.

    GeneralMaKKK. Can you name me a town or city that is a "crime free" utopia? I actually live in LR and feel perfectly safe. Saline County, on the other hand, makes me nervous.

  • ARMNAR
    December 5, 2018 at 11:10 a.m.

    Can Titleist and KlansmanMac not be abjectly disgusting racists?

    I don't think so.

  • RBear
    December 5, 2018 at 11:29 a.m.

    Condo said, "Skeptic1. Maybe you should offer some actual evidence to back your claims." Oh, trust me on this. You'll not get one shred of real evidence other than a bunch of right wing rhetoric. She's one of the shallowest of the right wing trolls in here.
    ...
    With regards to fake's comments, completely disregard them. They are the rants of a racist troll who lives in a trailer in Harrison and never sets foot in Little Rock. You could pick any city in the South who elected an African-American mayor and he'd just cut and paste the same comments there.

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