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Candidates for mayor of Little Rock: Steve Landers

Steve Landers' campaign website
Steve Landers says he's running for mayor of Little Rock as a way to give back to the community.

Steve Landers, founder of Landers Auto Group, is one of the three challengers hoping to unseat Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. in the November election.

KUAR News spoke with Landers about where he stands on the issues and what his plans would be for Little Rock if he were to be elected. KUAR will post the interview with each of the candidates to the website after they air on radio.

KUAR NEWS: Tell listeners about yourself and about your business experience, as well as why you've decided to run for mayor of Little Rock.

STEVE LANDERS: I'm Steve Landers, I’ve been a lifelong resident of Arkansas and also born in Little Rock and grew up in Benton and then moved back to Little Rock for the last 25 years. You know, I'm running for mayor because I want a safer place and a better place for my grandkids and my kids to grow up. I have ran businesses all over the US. I've employed 1000s of people and am doing something to give back to the people that've been good to me in this city, and this city has been good to me and I'm gonna do something to give back.

While campaigning you've criticized Mayor Scott most about crime. Crime is up all across the country in many cities. Is it fair to blame this administration alone for the rise in crime and Little Rock?

Well, you know, just looking at those numbers today from the city's numbers, and these are not my numbers – homicide in our city around 12 Street downtown this time over last year is up 133%, all homicides are up 33%, robberies up 52%. So I would like that not to be an issue. Violent crime in the 12 Street area is up more than 40.5%.

Mayor Scott has often talked about a multifaceted approach for solving the crime issue. Do you think that approach is a good step to keep going forward or would you have a different approach?

You know, he has a good approach, which is the holistic plan that he's trying to put in right now. It needs to be there, but it should have been started when he started back in 2019, instead of putting it in now. And so right now, it's probably an eight to 10 year plan, and he's trying to put it in, it's a long term plan and we have a short time to fix it.

On your website, you mentioned eliminating empty lots owned by the city and filling them with affordable housing. Can you explain how this plan will work? And where that funding would come from?

Well, the funding if we spend our tax dollars wisely that we get and don't waste the money that we get; we would have $18.5 million in the last two years from the ARPA money. And so you know, we don't spend that money and we've got money to do that. But I don't know that it costs a lot of money. For housing downtown if you've got the city's lots and most of the lot, and if you look at them, like I've looked at them there are $1,500 lots and $2,000 lots. Not very, not real expensive lots. You know, I would be for getting a builder to build an affordable house and for somebody to move into. I would be in for taking down boarded up houses that are falling in. You know, as mayor I would get the board of directors to get involved with and maybe even give the lot to a builder, if you've got to build the home there in the city specs.

Another thing I want to ask you about from your website is it said you feel the city wastes a lot of taxpayer dollars. Can you give any specific programs that you would cut if you were in office to get rid of that waste? And do you have any estimates on how much I would save taxpayers?

One program that I can tell you about is the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the mayor has in personal security that I won’t. Okay, so that money can go back to protecting everybody and that's what I want to do. Instead of paying 500,000 a year in security guards and employees to protect me, I want to give that money back to protect everybody in the city. That's one thing you know, the city does. You know there's no real transparency in our city with the taxpayer.

Even though the mayor is not in charge of the schools in the city, your website says you'd like to partner with the community to provide before-and-after-school programs that sound similar to the mayor's Community Schools Program. Is that a program that you'd continue or would you change this to it or get rid of it and start from scratch?

I don't know what I'll do until I get into office, but I think community programs are good. Some kids got to have them. Some kids don't get a meal unless they have someplace to go after school.

Ronak Patel is a reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.
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