Leslie Newell Peacock reports from City Hall:
Mayor Mark Stodola, surrounded by city employees holding signs saying “Thank You,” called a press conference at 11 a.m. today to thank supporters of the penny sales tax, and declared it the “start of a new day” for the city.
Stodola said he was making “solemn commitment to stand true to our word” about how the new tax dollars would be spent and was “committed to transparency.” He repeated that he would appoint a citizens’ committee to oversee the expenditures and “provide an extra layer of trust” for citizens.
Stodola scoffed at “naysayers” who characterized the election as “secret” (city leaders have refused to call on the pro-tax committee that spent $112,000 before the election to disclose specifics on the spending) and the turnout slim (he was referring to the Arkansas Blog, which noted that the campaign was targeted rather than publicized through major media spending, and called the 20 percent turnout pitiful). The mayor said the turnout was larger than he expected and was a “sweet victory” with “broad community support,” from business, neighborhoods, black and white.
The black and white part doesn’t appear to be so broad, a look at precinct turnout shows. Dozens of black neighborhoods voted against the tax. City Director Doris Wright, who represents the John Barrow neighborhood and surrounding area, said the vote was split in her precincts, with slightly more nos than yesses. She attributed that to confusion on the subject; contributing to that, she said, was that Thirty-sixth Street was “blanketed with signs” by the anti-tax coalition. Max wrote about the turnout earlier today.