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story.lead_photo.caption Frank Scott Jr., left, and Baker Kurrus are shown in these file photos.

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:

Scott 25,075

Kurrus 19,619

Sabin 19,089

Tolliver 2,014

Schwarz 1,774

The runoff is Dec. 4.

Little Rock mayoral candidate Baker Kurrus greets supporters Tuesday evening at his election party at Cajun’s Wharf in Little Rock.
Little Rock mayoral candidate Baker Kurrus greets supporters Tuesday evening at his election party at Cajun’s Wharf in Little Rock.

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 mayoral candidate Frank Scott Jr. speaks to his supporters at Copper Grill in Little Rock in this Nov. 6, 2018 photo.
Little Rock mayoral candidate Frank Scott Jr. speaks to his supporters at Copper Grill in Little Rock in this Nov. 6, 2018 photo.

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


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  • RBear
    November 7, 2018 at 4:49 a.m.

    I was definitely wrong on the vote on this race and Pack was right. The African-American vote made a big difference and put Scott well ahead of the others, almost to the point of avoiding a runoff. While I was a Sabin supporter, Scott does align with my views. I've never had a problem with 30 Crossing and that's the one issue I differed with Sabin on and aligned with Scott.
    One thing Scott did say during a campaign forum in response to a question I posed was that he will work towards getting rid of the city manager and at-large positions, two things I think hinder the mayor's and board's ability to enact true change. The at-large positions have become board members for life with an average tenure of over 20 years. They counter any substantive change on the board and should be a target of a voter referendum, promoted by Scott if he wins. Kurrus has already said he'll retain both manager and at-large.
    I'll have more to say on Scott as the runoff progresses, but one point should be made about some of the polling. Not sure what they were using for data, but their numbers were WAY OFF. I don't question Jay Barth's expertise, but he needs to go back and reassess his data collection. He missed this one in a big way. I'm learning Little Rock political dynamics and the precinct map will help look deeper at the results.

  • RBear
    November 7, 2018 at 6:36 a.m.

    Digging into this a bit deeper, the real question will be who turns out for the runoff and what issues are important to them. If Sabin sits out an endorsement, his voters could stay away from the polls giving Scott a definitive win. Those that do show up will look at the two remaining candidates to see what aligns with them.
    That comes down to three major issues: 30 Crossing, the structure of government, and public safety. Scott favors 30 Crossing and Kurrus opposes it. Scott favors restructuring government and Kurrus wants to keep things the way they are. Scott has taken a stronger stance on public safety, including the recent issue regarding no-knock warrants, and Kurrus had to be almost pulled to the table on it after garnering the endorsement of the police union.
    Another factor is that Ward 1 will be going to a runoff which will drag those voters back to the polls. Looking at the results of the mayor's race in Ward 1, Scott posted some strong results in all but a few precincts which Sabin and Kurrus split. That will improve Scott's chances of winning in the runoff.
    Runoff turnout typically runs lower than general election, which could play a factor into this race. Typically, most voters of the losing candidate forego the runoff since they no longer have a dog in the hunt. I'm going to run some models later this week (once I get a little sleep) to see what impact that might have. I have my hunches on who will win this runoff, but need to see more data.

  • drs01
    November 7, 2018 at 8:28 a.m.

    Well at least we don't have the Sabin to deal with anymore. He was the career politician in this race, and blowhard candidate.
    If Little Rock wants to rid itself of the city manager and 3 at large wards it will take a vote from the people, and that will be an all out battle which could create divisiveness (or more of it) as the city tries to become more unified.
    I can live with either of these candidates. I hope whichever one wins will recognize that we have 7 wards, not just one, and act accordingly.

  • GeneralMac
    November 7, 2018 at 8:38 a.m.

    For months all we heard from John Brummet was......" Sabin, Sabin, Sabin"

    For months all we heard from RBear was.............."Sabin, Sabin, Sabin"

  • RBear
    November 7, 2018 at 8:45 a.m.

    Ignoring the troll in the trailer on this issue. I choose to ignore avowed racists and anti-Semites. They are the scum of the earth.

  • drs01
    November 7, 2018 at 8:49 a.m.

    Pond scum is still forming on a river in San Antonia, Texas.

  • RBear
    November 7, 2018 at 9:17 a.m.

    Drs you continue to show how irrelevant you are. BTW, did you flunk spelling also? I checked into your “service” on a tax improvement district. Didn’t do much, did you.

    November 7, 2018 at 9:19 a.m.

    There is no such place as "San Antonia," Drs.

  • GeneralMac
    November 7, 2018 at 10:45 a.m.

    ARMNAR........those who point out a spelling errors have nothing else to counter the post that was made.

    You seem to do that often.

    (about as often as RBear brings up "LGBT" "LGBT" )

  • Jfish
    November 7, 2018 at 11:15 a.m.

    Thanks for the breakdown Rbear, which of the two do you think would be more proactive in the long-term planning for WLR and at least trying to work with the County to get a handle on the urban sprawl?