North Little Rock voters will decide who will serve as their next mayor in a runoff election Tuesday. The two candidates, former mayor Terry Hartwick and former Democratic state lawmaker Tracy Steele, failed to get more than 50% of the vote in what was a four-person contest on Election Day. Steele says he’s confident he’ll emerge victorious from the runoff.
"Here we are running against someone who was a former mayor of the city and running against someone who is a sitting city council member and another one that’s an educator. Yet we still got 46% of the vote. So we’re really pleased with out performance in the first election. So we’re glad to be where we are," Steele said.
Steele and Hartwick faced city council member Debi Ross and educator Alice Kunce in the Nov. 3 general election. Steele received the highest percentage of votes with around 45%. Hartwick earned around 32.5%. According to results from the Pulaski County Election Commission, the number of votes separating the two candidates on Nov. 3 was 3,170.
Hartwick, who spent Monday canvassing outside of the William F. Laman Library, says he was not surprised that the election went to a runoff, but that his messaging has stayed consistent, despite the field shrinking from four to two candidates.
"We’ve been telling the same story now for over a year where it means COVID-19, that means a little more effort in what we call code enforcement, heavy on the parks, safety is a big issue of course this time around, jobs, jobs, jobs always. That’s kind of been our routine for the last year," Hartwick said.
Steele says his approach to governing would be a better fit for the city than that of his opponent, who served as the city’s mayor in the 1980s.
"I think the choice is clear. I think it’s pretty simple. Either you vote for the future and somebody you can move our city forward in the right direction, or you vote for the past, as someone that not only wants our city to stay the same, but go back to some of the old ways that took us a long time to kind of move from," Steele said.
Hartwick said his prior experience is one reason voters should choose him.
"I’ve been there and done that before. I’ve been involved with the city, creating jobs, economic development, safety, working with all of our aldermen. I think we have a great bunch of aldermen here so working with them and doing the things we need to do to keep our city going," Hartwick said.
Incumbent Mayor Joe Smith said last year he would not seek a third term in office.
Polls are open Tuesday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. A full list of polling places can be found online.