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Little Rock attorney Antwan Phillips today announced that he is forming an exploratory committee for an at-large position on the Little Rock Board of Directors.

Phillips, a parter at the Wright Lindsey Jennings law firm, is the co-host of the Arkansas Times podcast “Rock the Culture” along with Charles Blake, the former state representative who is now the chief of staff for Mayor Frank Scott.

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Phillips’ prospective run is for the Position Nine at-large position on the board. The current at-large director for Position Nine is Gene Fortson, who has served for 12 years. Fortson, 82, announced last year that he is not running for re-election when his term ends this December. (In an interview with the Arkansas Times, Fortson said he supports and would prefer younger representation on the city board.)

Phillips is the first announced candidate for the position. At-large positions are elected by a city-wide vote and are typically more expensive races. Forming the exploratory committee will allow Phillips to begin raising money. His website is already up.

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Phillips is an ally of Mayor Scott, having served on his transition team and as a senior advisor on his mayoral campaign. Scott has said that he would eventually like to eliminate the board’s at-large positions in favor of more ward-specific representation. While working on the transition team, Phillips himself led a subcommittee which developed options to reform or eliminate at-large positions, and a governance task force recently recommended replacing the three at-large directors with two regional directors. But no such action has been taken to date.

Here’s the press release from Phillips:

Little Rock, AR (February 6, 2020) – On Thursday, Antwan Phillips, partner at Wright Lindsey Jennings (WLJ) and founder and co-host of the RockTheCulture podcast, announced he will form an exploratory committee for at-large position nine on the Little Rock Board of Directors. Residents can view Phillips’ story here and learn more about his campaign’s theme of Believe in Better at antwanphillips.com. Phillips, a life-long resident, released the following statement:

“As a son of Little Rock, I love this place we all call home. But I believe that Little Rock residents are ready for better neighborhoods, better economic opportunities, and better recreational options. Together, we can create a better Little Rock, and that is why I’m formally announcing my exploratory campaign to become an at-large member of the Little Rock City Board of Directors. 

“My life has been anchored around believing that I can be better and that I can help make our capital city better.  As a proud product of John L. McClellan High School and the UA-Little Rock’s Bowen School of Law, I have a diverse perspective on the obstacles and opportunities that are present in Little Rock. 

“I spent the majority of my childhood moving from one-year lease to one-year lease all over Little Rock. As a result, I attended six different elementary schools and two middle schools. I lived in three different households and by my senior year of high school, I was living on my own. Because of my unique upbringing, I have been committed to serving my community to help provide similar opportunities that were provided to me. I have served as President of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas Board of Directors and the Public Education Foundation of Little Rock. In 2016, I was appointed to the Little Rock Area Public Education Stakeholder Committee. In 2017, I co-founded the RockTheCulture podcast and Friends and Alumni of McClellan Alumni Scholarship Foundation. 

“With the support of my wife, Taneesha, I have been able to demonstrate my dedication to our city, while working full time as a practicing attorney. From my days at Meadowcliff Elementary to my current job at WLJ, I’ve learned that in our personal lives, work lives, and in City Hall our beliefs dictate our actions, and actions demonstrate our beliefs. I know that believing for better alone is not enough; it must be teamed with deliberate forward thinking, work-ethic, and commitment to making better happen.  

“As a City, if we believe in better, we will take all actions necessary to create better neighborhoods, better economic opportunities, and better recreational options.  In 2020, our city is ready for better. We are ready for visionary leadership that focuses not on what Little Rock has been, but what it can be.”