Despite a recent opinion from the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office that there is no mayoral election scheduled for Pine Bluff this year, former mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. filed for the office Monday just before the party primary filing period closed.
Redus, a Democrat, cited an Arkansas state statute that says “cities of the first class with populations under 50,000 will elect a mayor, city attorney, city clerk and city treasurer in the mid-term,” based on presidential election cycles.
“This is the mid-term,” Redus said after completing his paperwork at the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office, which opened for political filings despite the fact that the rest of the courthouse had been closed by Jefferson County Judge Dutch King early Monday because of hazardous driving conditions.
“We talked to the people in Little Rock and they said that we had to get the filings done today,” said Ted Davis, chairman of the Jefferson County Election Commission. “We called (County Clerk) Pat Johnson and she agreed to come down and take care of them.”
City Clerk Loretta Whitfield, who was re-elected to her present position in 2012, filed for re-election as a Democrat on Friday, and City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott filed for another term late last week, also as a Democrat.
Also Monday, retired Arkansas State Police Capt. Lloyd Franklin Sr. filed for city treasurer. Franklin ran for the position once before and was beaten by current City Treasurer Greg Gustek.
Redus was not the only veteran political figure to file Monday before the filing period closed.
Trey Ashcraft, who for 12 years was chairman of the Jefferson County Election Commission, filed as a Democrat for Jefferson County clerk, opposing incumbent clerk Patricia Royal Johnson, also a Democrat, who has filed for re-election.
Ashcraft held the position of county clerk from May, 2007, until Jan. 1, 2009, after being appointed to replace the late Helen Bradley.
Longtime former Jefferson County judge Jack Jones filed as a Democrat for District 12 Justice of the Peace on the Jefferson County Quorum Court. The position is currently held by Republican Ted Harden of White Hall, who is seeking re-election.
Alex Reed, the spokesman for Secretary of State Mark Martin, told The Commercial last month that the legal counsel for Martin’s office “agreed that the next mayoral election (for Pine Bluff) will not be until 2016.”
Reed was responding to a request for clarification of the law that was made by Mayor Debe Hollingsworth earlier in February, and a court ruling that resulted from a lawsuit filed by Redus in 2012 regarding the timing of the election.
An attempt to contact Reed on Monday afternoon was unsuccessful as the voice mailbox at the Secretary of State’s Office was full and the office was closed because of inclement weather.
In his 2012 lawsuit, Redus made the same argument he made Monday — that cities of the first class with a population of under 50,000 hold mayoral elections during the mid-term of presidential elections. Redus wanted Pulaski County Judge Jay Moody, who has since been named to the federal bench, to order Johnson not to count the ballots in the November 2012 general election for mayor, and contended that he should be allowed to remain in office until the end of 2014.
Moody rejected the argument, ruling that state law provides that population increases or decreases do not affect the timing of municipal elections.
Johnson said Monday afternoon she had not received any notification from the Secretary of State’s Office regarding its opinion that there will be no mayor’s race in Pine Bluff this year.