North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick announces bid for reelection

North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick discusses his experience on the job during an interview at city hall Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Colin Murphey)
North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick discusses his experience on the job during an interview at city hall Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Colin Murphey)

North Little Rock Mayor Terry Hartwick will seek four more years at the helm of the city's top office, he announced Thursday evening, alongside his plans to expand the city's Police and Fire Department capabilities and revitalize Burns Park after this spring's tornado.

Hartwick, who defeated Tracy Steele in a December 2020 runoff to become mayor for the second time after a stint from 1985 to 1989, was at times visibly emotional as he announced his reelection bid at the Wyndham Riverfront hotel to a crowd of supporters.

Resident safety would be a continued priority if he won a second term, Hartwick said. He intends to supplement the recently opened North Little Rock Justice Center with a real-time crime center that would tie in existing city cameras with a central command center.

The crime center, which would mirror the one established this year by Little Rock police in their department's recently constructed headquarters, would help modernize and reinforce a Police Department that Hartwick said is doing good work but struggles to recruit enough qualified officers.

Hartwick also touted plans for a new Central Fire Station that will feature a drop-off box giving parents the option to anonymously surrender newborns without risk of prosecution.

"I think that's important, to have something that maybe wasn't even thought of four or five years ago," Hartwick said of the drop-off box, also known as a safe haven baby box.

Hartwick's second run as mayor has been colored by the covid-19 pandemic, a February 2021 blizzard and the March 31 tornado. On Thursday night, he recalled the destruction the twister wrought on Burns Park. About 15,000 trees were downed in the storm, he said, and the park remained closed for much of the year.

"That was a tough one, guys," Hartwick said.

The city is reopening the park in phases. On the same day as Hartwick announced his reelection bid, the city reopened the park's top loop around Funland Drive. The park's soccer complex is still closed, but Hartwick said Thursday he expects it to reopen Dec. 1.

"I want to get us back to normal as fast as possible," Hartwick said.

On top of the repairs, Hartwick talked of opening a mountain biking course in the city that would rival outdoor opportunities offered by other cities.

"What I guess I'm trying to say is, I don't want people going to Fayetteville anymore," Hartwick said with a laugh. "I want people from Fayetteville coming here."

Another city Hartwick said he hoped to poach business from was neighboring Little Rock. The lack of a dedicated event center in North Little Rock means turning people away, he said, and he plans to build a conference center that could host at least 1,000 people near the old city services building at 120 N. Main St.

"I am tired of sending business to Little Rock," Hartwick said.

Also during his tenure, Hartwick sold approximately $1.9 million worth of unused city property, a release from his office states.

The mayoral term is for four years and the winner will take office on Jan. 1, 2025. The mayoral election is in November 2024. The current mayor's annual salary is $140,153.76.

Hartwick, who was born and raised in North Little Rock and graduated from North Little Rock High School, is an Air Force veteran.

After his first tenure as mayor, Hartwick served as the president and CEO of the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce for 15 years starting in 2001. He was appointed director of the city's Parks and Recreation Department in 2016.

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