Little Rock City Director Dean Kumpuris, one of three at-large members of the Board, told me this morning that he will seek a fifth elected term to the board. He joined the board by appointment in 1995.
That means all three at-large directors — the others are Joan Adcock and Gene Fortson — will be running again. These are elected citywide and thus are the most expensive races to make. Name recognition of long-term incumbents also presents a barrier to challengers. the city business establishment has traditionally been vital with financial support in these races. With influence in these seats and — typically — establishment-supported directors in Hillcrest, the Heights and western Little Rock, the business establishment has generally had its way in operation of city government. The mayor is also elected citywide and he’s formed a close alliance with the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce in raising money for his races. In return, they’ve been given many favors including a taxpayer operational subsidy (currently struck down by a circuit court ruling) and more than $20 million in sales tax money to buy some real estate to house a dreamed-of “tech park.”
So far, there’s only one announced candidate. Molly Miller, a recent graduate of the Clinton School of Public Service, for any of the at-large seats. She will challenge Adcock and has drawn some active participants in city government to her side against Adcock, who’s a tireless campaigner but whose bullying style also has made enemies.