After a close contest Tuesday, Baker Kurrus and Frank Scott Jr. -- two of Little Rock's five mayoral candidates -- will face off once more.
Neither secured 40 percent of the vote, the necessary threshold to win outright. The other candidates were state Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock, marijuana decriminalization advocate Glen Schwarz and activist Vincent Tolliver.
With all precincts reporting, the unofficial vote totals were:
The runoff is Dec. 4.
Little Rock's mayoral candidates raised nearly $1 million among them in campaign contributions. Last week, Kurrus' campaign reported raising $324,999 since June 1. Scott formed an exploratory committee in September 2017 and as of Oct. 30 said he had raised a total of about $370,000 between the committee and the campaign.
At a watch party at the Copper Grill downtown, Scott thanked his supporters and urged them to pray.
"It wasn't about me -- it was about all of us. We knocked on the doors. We called 65,000 people. For such a time as this. So if you understand all of that, go home tonight ... whatever faith you have, pray. Because it's time for Little Rock to reach its full potential, to unify this city," he said.
From his watch party at Cajun's Wharf, Kurrus said he felt good about the results and upcoming runoff.
"We're very excited," he said. "We're optimistic, we've got a great team and we're looking forward to it."
From left: Baker Kurrus, Warwick Sabin, Glen Schwarz, Frank Scott and Vincent Tolliver.
Kurrus, 64, is an attorney and business consultant, as well as a longtime Little Rock School Board member who served as the schools' superintendent following the state takeover in 2015. Scott, 34, is a banker and associate pastor as well as a former state highway commissioner and a senior adviser to former Gov. Mike Beebe.
While both Kurrus and Scott prioritized public safety during their campaigns, they differed in their response to allegations of dangerous and illegal practices in the Little Rock Police Department highlighted in recent Washington Post opinion pieces.
Scott had released a statement saying that Little Rock needs an independent community review board to hold the department accountable, as well as a letter he sent to the U.S. Department of Justice asking for an investigation. Kurrus said he was extremely concerned about the reported practices, which included "no-knock warrants" based on informants' tips, but the mechanisms to review them already exist.
Little Rock's next mayor will be involved in the selection of the department's new head, as current Police Chief Kenton Buckner accepted a job in Syracuse, N.Y., last week.
Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College in Conway, said the runoff was a testament to the candidates' "clear, different strengths," which caused many voters to grapple with whom to support. He said the race so far had been positive, but added that the city would likely see "edgier" campaigning over the next four weeks.
The mayoral race became broader after current Mayor Mark Stodola announced in May that he would not seek a fourth term. Little Rock's mayor has been "the chief executive officer of the City," since voters approved an ordinance giving the once-ceremonial position additional powers in 2007, during Stodola's first four-year term.
"I think it's worked by and large pretty well," Stodola said in a recent interview. "When you've done a good job, everyone wants your job."
The passage of ordinance No. 19761 made the mayor a full-time position with authority over issues including preparation of the city budget and veto power. The law 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 can hire and fire the city manager, the city's chief administrative officer, and nominate and fill any vacancy occurring on any board, authority or commission, with approval from the city Board of Directors. The ordinance also states that the duties state law gives the city manager shall be performed at the direction of the mayor.
Little Rock's current form of government -- seven city ward representatives, three at-large seats, a directly elected mayor and a city manager -- was approved by voters in 1993.
Six city directors who were up for re-election Tuesday -- Erma Hendrix for Ward 1, Ken Richardson for Ward 2, Vice Mayor Kathy Webb for Ward 3, Lance Hines for Ward 5, Doris Wright for Ward 6 and B.J. Wyrick for Ward 7 -- retained their seats. Webb and Hines were unopposed, while the rest had multiple challengers.
Information for this article was contributed by Jaime Dunaway of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Metro on 11/07/2018
Print Headline: Front-runners Frank Scott Jr., Baker Kurrus to face off for Little Rock mayor