LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Frank Scott, Little Rock’s first popularly elected Black mayor, won reelection on Tuesday after a campaign where he was criticized over the homicide rate in Arkansas’ capital and his management of City Hall.
Scott’s reelection bid was one of the few competitive races on the ballot in Arkansas, where Sarah Huckabee Sanders easily won took governor’s race and other Republicans won top matchups.
“You all gave me four years in 2018. You all gave me another four years tonight,” Scott told supporters. “Trust and believe, I work for you, and it’s bigger than me. It’s about all of us.”
Scott defeated three challengers in Tuesday’s election, winning the more than 40% of the vote needed to claim victory without a runoff.
Scott’s chief rival was Steve Landers, a retired car dealer who had repeatedly criticized the mayor over the city’s homicide rate. Little Rock’s homicides hit a record number this year.
“I want the people to understand what’s going on in our city,” Landers told supporters as he conceded the race late Tuesday night. “If nothing else, we got that accomplished by letting a lot of people know what is actually happening in our city.”
Scott is running at a time when Republicans are stepping up their rhetoric on crime and trying to portray Democratic mayors as unable to protect their cities.
Other candidates running included Greg Henderson, a real estate agent and publisher of a food blog and Glen Schwarz, a longtime marijuana legalization advocate who has repeatedly run for local office.
Scott, a former state highway commissioner, was first elected mayor in a runoff election in 2018, — a landmark for a city long known for the 1957 desegregation of Little Rock Central High School, when nine Black students were escorted into the school in front of an angry white mob.
Little Rock previously had two Black mayors, but they were elected city directors chosen for the job by fellow board members and not by voters.
The Little Rock mayor’s race is technically nonpartisan, but Scott is a high-profile Democrat who worked for former Gov. Mike Beebe and endorsed Michael Bloomberg’s unsuccessful bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
Scott has been targeted in recent weeks by Republican groups that have been campaigning for the mayor’s ouster. They include one campaign funded by former Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Landers has also criticized Scott’s management of City Hall, including a music and arts festival the mayor had championed that was abruptly canceled after questions were raised about its financing.
Scott also faced criticism over a lack of transparency by his administration, which prompted the local prosecutor to vent frustration about the number of Freedom of Information Act complaints he’s received about the city.
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