Editor’s note: This is the first in series of articles on candidates for Pine Bluff mayor.
Kent Broughton, 22, a 2012 graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, doesn’t believe that his young age is a factor in his candidacy as he plans to foster a culture of cooperation in city government if he is elected mayor of Pine Bluff Nov. 6.
Broughton is among nine candidates running for the office of Pine Bluff mayor. Others are Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr., Debe Hollingsworth, Clarence Davis, Tim Whisenhunt, Thelma Walker, Steven Mays, John James Jr. and Peter Daniels Jr.
“I don’t think that my age affects my ability to run the people’s business,” Broughton said. “I have a great deal of experience in leadership roles. I was president of the UAPB student government association and that role is very similar to overseeing a city government. You have to look at issues including crime and quality of life issues on campus. I worked to build relationships between UAPB and the larger community. I was also a youth advocate with the Children’s Defense Fund as well as an accounting administrative assistant at United Water and a human resources trainee with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Broughton believes that the quality of life of residents can be enhanced by delving deeper into the reasons behind crime in Pine Bluff.
“We must ensure that the quality of life is enhanced for residents,” Broughton said. “We need to address crime and try to help reduce it. We need to ensure that the police build relationships with the community and that the police provide the community with regular updates. The programs sponsored by the Department of Parks and Recreation also help to reduce youth crime.”
“We need to find out why different crimes are happening,” Broughton said. “We don’t want our children growing up in a community where killings are happening regularly. We need to look at the root cause of crime and see what can be done to address it.”
“Education is a key component of economic development,” Broughton said. “When businesses are looking at an area they look at the quality of life of residents and at the level of training of the workforce. We have SEARK and UAPB and several public school districts here. We have to link everybody together. We need to be one community with one vision. The divisions that we see in the community are halting our progress.”
Broughton said that Pine Bluff has what it needs to succeed but its residents need to realize that they have common cause with one another in whether the town succeeds or fails.
“We must make sure that Pine Bluff is a place that people are trying to move to to take advantage of its resources,” Broughton said. “We have all of the key resources that we need to succeed. What better resources can you ask for than the training that is offered at UAPB and SEARK? We have to be aggressive and innovative. I think I connect with young professionals and that is where our growth is going to come from. We need to retain more people here after college. We need to bring in those businesses that will bring good, solid jobs. We need to expand the desire among young people in the community to pursue higher education.”
“We need to work with programs such as Main Street that is sponsored by the Arkansas Heritage Foundation that give assistance to communities that want to revitalize their downtown areas,” Broughton said. “Places like El Dorado and Helena are seeing their small businesses thrive. By doing things like this, you are empowering people and creating sustainability instead of quick fixes.”
Broughton is in his first year of a graduate program at the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock and believes that his presence there will actually enhance his abilities as mayor.
“I agree that being mayor is a full-time job and my studies at the Clinton School will not conflict with that,” Broughton said in answer to the question of how he will handle his graduate school studies if he is elected mayor.
“You have five years to complete your degree,” he said. “The program is focused on the development of leadership and public service and I will be able to use what I am learning to help the people of Pine Bluff. I am not a politician. I am just looking at how best to build our community and to make sure that everybody feels safe. Pine Bluff was a boom town in the early 20th century and we can do that again.”