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Little Rock Mayor Delivers State Of The City Address

Daniel Breen

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott , Jr. delivered his first State of the City address of his term Thursday at Horace Mann Arts and Science Magnet Middle School.

Scott began by thanking the city's Board of Directors and the citizens who elected him.

"Every day that I step foot in [City Hall], I do so with great humility knowing that the only reason that I'm there is because you shared my vision of unifying Little Rock," Scott said. "We did this together."

Scott outlined his major policy goals, most of which stemmed from objectives he set on the campaign trail. The venue was fitting for Scott's plan for education, which he calls his "2020 Education Roadmap." Scott said he's asked for any discretionary funding from the state to be used for summer, afterschool and pre-kindergarten programs instead of a private school voucher program, the same day the state Senate approved a bill to start a $3 million statewideprivate school scholarship program.

The mayor also outlined his vision for a plan to appoint a Chief Education Officer to oversee the consolidation of all schools south of the Arkansas River into one district. But, Scott said that would require a return to local control of the Little Rock School District, which was taken over by the state in 2015.

"Local control alone is not enough. We need local control to take the next step: a total reimagining and reinvention of education in Little Rock," Scott said. 

On the topic of law enforcement, Scott acknowledged his newly-selected Chief of Police, Keith Humphrey. As one of four finalists, Humphrey had shown support for body-worn cameras for officers and revisiting the department's policy on no-knock search warrants.

Scott said those goals, along with his vision for an independent citizens review board, would soon become reality.

"On or around April 1, we will issue a request for proposals to purchase body cameras for the Little Rock Police Department," Scott said. "And to further improve the relationship between our first responders and the communities they serve, we have asked our City Attorney to draft the ordinance to change LRPD's no-knock warrant policy."

On economic development, Scott voiced his support for a sales tax on internet retailers and said his efforts to recruit sports entertainment company Topgolf to the city are ongoing. Scott also announced he would create a small business growth plan and further efforts to make the city more walkable.

For his first 87 days in office, Scott has been working with a transition team made up of eight committees focused on varied topics like mobility, inclusion and quality of life.

Scott teased some of their recommendations, all of which will be released in the coming weeks in a full report Scott calls "The Scott Script." Among them are changes to the city board structure, moving away from at-large city director positions and requiring director candidates to get 40 percent of the vote to win.

And as part of Scott's "eternal why" to unify Little Rock, he announced a revamped form of the city's existing Cultural Diversity Commission.

"We will create Little Rock's Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and re-brand the Little Rock [Racial and} Cultural Diversity Commission as the Little Rock Human Rights Commission, incorporating the concerns of Little Rock's LGBTQIA community in the existing mission of the Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission."

You can see Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr.'s entire State of the City address here

Daniel Breen is News Director of Little Rock Public Radio.
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