Little Rock has had a Black mayor before, but for the first time in town history, supporters voted one in. His name is Frank Scott Jr.
The 35-year-old banking executive and former highway commissioner defeated the city’s police union favored, Baker Kurrus, in Tuesday’s runoff election for the nonpartisan, open seat.
Previously, Little Rock had two black mayors, but both were appointed. Scott, who tallied 58 percent of the votes, is also the city’s youngest mayor since 1979.
“It’s not a black or white thing with me,” said Lula Binns, a 75-year-old black retiree who voted for Scott. “It’s just time for some younger blood.”
Scott gave his victory speech at Cajun’s Wharf, where he expressed lots of gratitude.
“We started this journey making certain we were going to directly engage each and every voter,” he said. “So I thank every volunteer, every team member, every donor, every voter, anybody that shot up a prayer or a positive vibe, we just want to say thank you.”
While in office, Scott main task will be unifying the city. He sees division in three major areas: race, income, and geography.
Mary Leckie, a 73-year-old white retiree and voter for the new mayor-elect said, “I just thought maybe it would help race relations in our town, which is not very good right now.”
Because of Arkansas’ acquisition of Little Rock’s School District three years ago, community leaders have compared the ruling to Gov. Orval Faubus’ efforts to block integration.
In September of 1957, the Little Rock Central High School Desegregation incident happened, where officials escorted nine African-Americans past an angry white mob on the first day of school.
In addition to the racial struggles, Little Rock’s police department is under fire as well. The LRDP is being scrutinized for its tactics, including its use of “no-knock” warrants. Scott has openly been an advocate for police reform in Little Rock. He served as an adviser to former Gov. Mike Beebe and on the state Highway Commission. As a result, he assembled a coalition that crossed racial and political lines.
Recently, Scott called for a federal investigation on the Little Rock Police Department for usage of explosives and no-knock warrants to violently serve drug warrants, and according to the Washington Post, “nearly all the no-knock warrants served by the LRPD’s narcotics unit over the past several years were illegal.”