Candidates for mayor of Little Rock: Greg Henderson
Greg Henderson, president and chief marketing officer of Rock City Eats, is one of the three challengers so far hoping to unseat Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. in the November election. In 2020, he ran unsuccessfully against City Director Joan Adcock for her seat on the Little Rock Board of Directors.
KUAR News interviewed Henderson about his campaign and what his plans would be for the city if elected.
KUAR NEWS: First, tell me about yourself. Who are you and what is your experience? Also tell us why you've decided to run for mayor of Little Rock.
Greg Henderson: Yes, I have been a resident of central Arkansas my entire life. I think Little Rock's important to the city and to the state. You know, it's really always been sort of that central area and that's kind of what made me interested in this. I got started off working with small businesses, so I've been consulting with small businesses for over 20 years now — working from either business consulting, marketing, consulting and now also help them find commercial real estate properties. And so a lot of what I've done has shown me that small business growth is very important for local economies. I think that it's one of the things where a lot of times we get caught up in big projects where we're going to have 10,000 people hired. Well, in reality, a lot of times it's more efficient and better for the local economy to invest that same amount of money back in the existing businesses that are already here and allow them to continue forward. The other thing I've done is I've worked very closely with the Downtown Neighborhood Association, including serving as the president for two years, and I see the real impact that a strong neighborhood has.
On your Facebook page, you said changing the police chief and hiring more officers is only attacking the symptoms of a crime problem. Can you expand on that? And if you were mayor, would you still try to expand the number of officers that the city has?
We absolutely need to expand the number of officers the city has right now. We have a deficit in the number of officers. We've had that deficit for quite a while. While I don't think it's gotten any better, it certainly is not an issue that's been entirely up to Frank. If you remember back during Mayor [Mark] Stodola, they also had that same problem of declining officers. It's really not Mayor Scott's fault in that, but it's nothing that's been solved.
Some of what you're saying sounds similar to what Mayor Scott has said about the multi-faceted way to approach crime, like investing in community as well as policing. How does your approach differ from his?
In reality, you know, I think there's a lot of big picture things that Mayor Scott said that is probably going to sound very similar to mine, you're not wrong. I think what's happened is in the execution of it, so you look at Mayor Scott says all that, but then we're not fixing the problem right now. But it's kind of a burning building solution. Yes, we need to get in and repair the building after it's burned down. But to get to the fire at first, I think right now we have to put the fire out first, and then we have to work with communities to make sure that when a fire is set fires out that we don't keep starting new fires as we go on down. I think we're missing a little bit of it. He's trying to jump way too far ahead of what really needs to happen right now. And so we have to take care of the short term problems immediately before we can start taking care of some of these long term problems. I think that's a core difference.
On your Facebook, you've said your group Rock City Eats had a $500-million impact on the local economy. Can you explain where this number comes from? Was this done by an independent economic study?
We've worked with small businesses over the past 10 years with Rock City Eats, mostly in the restaurant scene. What we started tracking was what was the growth with local businesses versus chain restaurants in the city. And so we need to be able to pull that from A&P tax numbers and so basically, the way that that number was calculated out was looking at where we were 10 years before we started, and where we were at in the five year that we can still pull numbers from after we've got going and seeing what percentage change we were able to make off of what the normal curve was going to be. We've also been able to work with several restaurants and several other businesses to see whenever we go in and do you know, x work with them, what kind of impact does that typically make to their bottom line. Then we can basically put that off of and basically apply that to other restaurants that we've worked with knowing that there's a pretty common average between, when we do a certain amount of work to what their bottom lines aren't being. It's a mixture of those numbers.
You have said you want to raise the quality of public education, Mayor Scott created the community schools to do the same. Do you think this program is a step in the right direction? Would you make any changes to the program or get rid of it and start from scratch? What would your approach be with that?
You know, I think that if you go and talk to people, just around the city and you ask them, what are the community schools, they're gonna have a really hard time telling you. Even asking you know, people directly, I still don't understand half the time what they're talking about. And so I think that basically what we need is some clarity in the model. I think that we need to say, okay, very commonly, this is what community schools are trying to do and this is where they're going and then have some kind of measurement against it. The answer they usually get is, we're just gonna go in every community and see what they need and basically adjust the school to do that. And I think that's great. We have to look at measurements of how we're actually going to determine if this model is working or not.