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EL DORADO -- Veronica Smith-Creer said she will be ready to roll up her sleeves and tackle the challenges facing the city when she takes office Jan. 1 as El Dorado's next mayor.

Smith-Creer emerged as the winner Tuesday in a three-way mayoral race, with only 87 votes separating her and leading challenger Bill Luther. Independent candidate Trang My Lu came in third with 50 votes.

"It's still so overwhelming," Smith-Creer said breathlessly during her victory party at the Union County Democratic headquarters.

Smith-Creer received 2,447 votes to become the first woman and the first black person to occupy the El Dorado mayor's office.

Luther, a Republican, received 2,360 votes in his third election in 2018.

The retired Entergy engineer/customer service manager faced incumbent Mayor Frank Hash, who ran in May in the Republican preferential primary.

Luther and Sgt. Chris Lutman, community relations supervisor for the El Dorado Police Department, were the two leading candidates in the primary and faced each other in a runoff election in June.

"I've run three [mayoral] races this year," Luther said. "I won two, and I lost this one by 87 votes."

Luther made his way from the county courthouse and across Elm Street to the Union County Democratic headquarters after the final tally was counted to congratulate Smith-Creer, whom he called a friend.

"I'm proud of her, and I wish the best for her and for El Dorado," he said. "It was a good, close race. It was a clean, positive race. Both sides never went negative."

Smith-Creer expressed similar sentiments, noting that she and Luther previously served together on the El Dorado-Union County Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

"Bill and I know each other," she said. "There was no mud-slinging, no negativity from either side. He came right over here and congratulated me. We always maintained that no matter who wins, El Dorado would have a great mayor."

Luther said he offered his assistance to Smith-Creer.

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

"I told her I would be available to her and to just give me a call," he said. "I want to use my background and experience in creating jobs, economic development and that sort of thing. I still want the best for El Dorado."

Smith-Creer said she plans to implement changes based on what she identified as key issues during her campaign: street maintenance, beautification and attending to the needs of underserved neighborhoods in El Dorado.

She said she was thankful for the community support she received during her campaign and for the large voter turnout in El Dorado and Union County.

"I'm so grateful for the people who came out and voted," she said. "Voter turnout was amazing."

State Desk on 11/08/2018

Print Headline: El Dorado voters elect first female mayor

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