If money were the only measure, I’d predict a runoff for North Little Rock mayor in the race to succeed Joe Smith by former Mayor Terry Hartwick, former senator and current School Board member Tracy Steele, City Council member Debi Ross, and school teacher Alice Kunce. Hartwick and Steele together have outraised the other two candidates about 10 to 1.
Steele led the initial voting eight years ago, but lost a runoff to Mayor Joe Smith. Much of the public discussion this year has been about feuds between Hartwick and Steele camps, with criticism of Steele heavy on contemporary contentiousness and over his Democratic Party bona fides given that he got a state job from Asa Hutchinson after endorsing the Republican for governor in 2014. Hartwick is faulted for coziness with the business establishment. A late-breaking issue is a paid consultant to Steele’s campaign turning up on state filings as treasurer of a so-called independent expenditure committee endorsing a variety of political candidates including Steele.
Stephen Simpson summarized the fund-raising in the Democrat-Gazette today: $223,533 for Hartwick; $116,281 for Steele; $33,277 for Ross, and $1,904 for Kunce, plus her personal loan of more than $6,000.
It’s an opportunity to deliver on a promise I made to Kunce to find a place for a message she sent me following some earlier items on the race. She won’t be on TV as Steele and Hartwick are, so here’s some free media for her. She said:
I think this election is an excellent time for North Little Rock to have a fresh start, minus the baggage of the two men in the race. Both of them would bring decades of politicking to the mayor’s office, which NLR cannot afford. Our city needs someone who can focus on our decaying infrastructure without being caught up in repaying favors or years of entanglements. I find it mighty interesting that they both say they’ll focus on our underserved neighborhoods, but how did they focus on these areas when they were in power? Steele was a state legislator for years and Hartwick was president of the Chamber of Commerce. If the empty lots and abandoned storefronts along E. Broadway and Pike Ave are any indication, by not doing much. Why should the people of NLR trust them to help these areas now, when they’ve never cared enough in the past?
And, I asked her, what about Ross?
Debi’s been an alderwoman for 14 years. She’s done a great job for her Ward, but what about the rest of them? Other neighborhood residents don’t have the luxury.