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Little Rock voters to decide contentious race for mayor

Voters waiting in line outside the Pulaski County Regional Building in Little Rock Monday to cast their ballots.
Michael Hibblen
Voters waiting in line outside the Pulaski County Regional Building in Little Rock Monday to cast their ballots.

After several months of heated rhetoric and debate in the race for mayor of Little Rock, Tuesday is Election Day. If none of the four candidates gets at least 40% of the vote, a runoff will be needed.

During the two-week early voting period that ended Monday, supporters of incumbent Frank Scott Jr. and Steve Landers had been the most visible at locations in the city. Food blogger Greg Henderson had been personally asking for support from voters at early voting sites. The fourth candidate vying for mayor is longtime marijuana legalization advocate Glen Schwarz.

Outside Dee Brown Library on Baseline Road in southwest Little Rock, supporters of Landers and Mayor Scott waved signs and cheered as people were pulling into the parking lot and going inside to vote.

One Landers volunteer, who only gave his name as Jessie, said there had been some hostile encounters during the hours he had been there.

“It has been an experience. Got a lot of harsh words and then a lot of pleasant words too,” he said. “That's come to be expected. I knew that was going to happen when I’d come out here and that’s okay. People can vote their conscious. We’re a free county and that's what the voting process is about — voting where our hearts are and what we believe in.”

He said a key motivating factor for him supporting Landers was Little Rock’s high crime rate. Last week, the city surpassed its all-time record for homicides which was set in 1993.

“I think he’ll be a better choice than what we have right now. The crime rate in Little Rock was supposed to go down in the last four years and I don't feel safe in this city.”

On the same strip of grass, Phyllis Thompson was holding a sign campaigning for Mayor Scott. She acknowledged crime remains a problem, but said the issue is bigger than the mayor.

“Nobody’s going to get rid of these crimes overnight, but [Scott] is working on that and he’s doing an excellent job,” Thompson said.

She suggested Scott has been beneficial for the city’s economy.

“He has created more jobs since he’s been in office. The neighborhoods are becoming better neighborhoods,” Thompson said.

Another supporter of Mayor Scott, who only gave his name as Darrell, encouraged registered voters to take part in this election.

“I always love to vote. It's our greatest right that we have in this country, and given the political climate that we’re in, it’s very important that everyone exercise their constitutional right,” he said.

Polls will be open Tuesday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth said on Twitter that unofficially as of 5 p.m. Monday, a total of 68,980 voters in the county had cast ballots early for the general election, which is 28.7% of registered voters.

Chris Powell, a spokesman for Secretary of State John Thurston, said at about 1 p.m. on Monday that 453,240 people had voted early statewide.

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.
Michael Hibblen was a journalist for KUAR News from May 2009 — December 2022. During his final 10 years with the station, he served as News Director. In January 2023, he was hired by Arkansas PBS to become its Senior Producer/ Director of Public Affairs.
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