Pine Bluff Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. said in a court filing late Monday that existing state law calls for the next mayoral election in the city to be in 2014 and also authorizes him to remain in office after the expiration of his official term until his successor is elected and qualified.
A hearing on the lawsuit filed by Redus seeking to halt this November’s mayoral election will begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Second Division Courtroom at the Jefferson County Courthouse. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Jay Moody will hear the case. Moody was appointed by the Arkansas Supreme Court after all the judges in Jefferson County recused themselves.
Redus wants Moody to order the Jefferson County Election Commission to not count any votes cast in a race for mayor and order the commission and county clerk to not certify the election results.
A pre-trial brief filed by Redus’ attorney Gene McKissic said state law provides that cities with a mayor-council form of government and a population of less that 50,000 hold mayoral elections on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November in 1970 and every four years thereafter. That statute was enacted in 1965. The law also provides that existing mayors would continue in office until their successor is elected and qualified.
The 2010 census reported the population of Pine Bluff was 49,083.
Prior to this year, the population of Pine Bluff exceeded 50,000 and state law provided that mayoral elections would be held at the same time as the presidential election, which would be this year.
To comply with that law, the legal filing said the next election for mayor should be in 2014, but said the Jefferson County Election Commission has printed ballots and announced publicly their intention to hold a mayoral election this year. Additionally, the commission has certified nine candidates for mayor, disregarding the existing law.
Attorneys for Debe Hollingsworth, who is also a candidate for mayor of Pine Bluff, and for the commission and County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson, have asked the court to consider a statute adopted by the legislature in 1967 which would allow for a mayoral election this year, despite the drop in population.
The pre-trial brief by McKissic said the Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled that when two statutes address the same subject the one that is more specific will govern.
McKissic said the 1965 statute is more specific since it addresses the office of mayor, who can elect the mayor, the length of mayoral terms, when the election should take place, and the frequency in which to conduct a mayoral election in a city of less than 50,000 with a mayor-council form of government.
Regarding the provision of the law that would allow Redus to continue in office for another two years, the court filing said Redus was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2008 and while that term is scheduled to expire at the end of this year, the reported drop in the city’s population caused the mayoral election cycle to change.
In addition to Johnson and the commission, the lawsuit named candidates for mayor including Hollingsworth, Clarence Davis, Tim Wisenhunt, Thelma Walker, Steven Mays, John James Jr., Peter Daniels Jr. and Kent Broughton.
Gov. Mike Beebe and Secretary of State Mark Martin were originally included in the case but both of them have been dropped.
• Click here for the pre-trial brief filed by Redus' lawyer Oct. 1 — Part 1
• Click here for the pre-trial brief filed by Redus' lawyer Oct. 1 — Part 2
• Click here for the Order to Join the other mayoral candidates to the lawsuit Sept. 18
• Click here for the dismissal order removing Gov. Beebe and SOS Martin from the lawsuit Sept. 17
• Click here for the Motion to Require Joinder filed by Redus' lawyer Sept. 17
• Click here for the Motion to Require Joinder filed by the lawyer for the county
• Click here for the Motion for Dismal of Gov. Beebe and SOS Martin filed by Redus' lawyer Sept. 17
• Click here for the order appointing a special judge to the case Sept. 11
• Click here for the Secretary of State's response Sept. 10 — Part 1
• Click here for the Secretary of State's response Sept. 10 — Part 2
• Click here for Hollingsworth's motion to intervene Sept. 10
• Click here for the the local circuit judges' recusal document Sept. 10
• Click here for the full text of Redus' initial complaint Sept. 5