The first new mayor in 12 years is officially leading the city of Little Rock. Frank Scott Jr. took his inaugural oath on Tuesday, the first day of the new year.
During the general election, Scott came up short of the votes needed to win the mayoral election, forcing a runoff election between Scott and Baker Kurrus. Scott ultimately won, earning over 22,000 votes. Scott is the first elected black mayor of Little Rock.
The inaugural event took place inside the auditorium in the Robinson Center. The event was moved from a ballroom to the auditorium to accommodate for a larger than expected crowd. In addition to the mayoral inauguration, six members of the Little Rock Board of Directors also took their oaths of office.
In his speech following his oath, Scott emphasized the importance of growing the city, so that younger generations can thrive in Little Rock, as opposed to moving elsewhere.
“No longer will you have to leave Little Rock to go to Dallas, to go to Memphis, to go to Atlanta, to go to Houston or wherever else, because you can reach your true and full potential right here in your hometown,” Scott said.
Scott also said it was time for a Little Rock that “truly understands its diversity and identity” and to embrace changes that would create a more unified city.
Speaking with reporters afterward, Scott gave a clearer explanation of what some of that change may be. One is the size of the Little Rock Police Department.
Scott wants to increase the force from 593 to 700 officers over the next four years, which would lead to an increased budget to pay the additional officers.
While the city has passed its initial budget, Scott called it a living budget and wants to amend it to fund the salaries for 20 to 25 more police officers this year. Scott says decreasing the crime rate should be a priority for the city.
“There are people in Arkansas who do not come to Little Rock because crime is a problem. There are people outside of Arkansas who don’t come to Little Rock because crime is a problem. If it is a problem, it should be a priority, and all of your priorities should reflect on your budget,” Scott said.
He also said focusing on poverty, education, economic development and jobs is the way to reduce the crime rate.
During his speech, Scott outlined his plan for his transition in the coming weeks and the importance of public feedback during this time.
“An open, transparent transition is the first step in what I hope will be a clean break from the way city hall has operated,” Scott said.
The transition team consists of eight citizen-led subcommittees. Those committees are: finance, administration and operations; opportunity; mobility; jobs; public safety and accountability; inclusion; quality of life and intergovernmental affairs and relations and government reform.
According to Scott, every department, board and commission of Little Rock’s government will meet with its respective subcommittee and discuss its impacts on the city. The subcommittees will also each hold town halls to gather public information. Each of these subcommittees will produce a four-year plan with final recommendations to the transition committee. The transition committee will then create a final report.
“This transition and the report that it will produce will be a clear game plan and playbook for holding myself and the city board accountable throughout my first term,” Scott said.
The first meeting of the transition board of directors will be on January 7 at 7 a.m.
You can listen to Scott's entire inaugural speech below.