Holcomb succeeding mother, Gustek back in office


The first ward’s Holcomb dynasty will continue on Pine Bluff’s City Council and a former city treasurer wins the seat in the runoff Tuesday.

Retiring Alderman Irene Holcomb is yielding her seat of the past 23 years to her son, Lloyd A. Holcomb Jr., who defeated Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Alfred Carroll 609-368 in a Tuesday runoff. The percentage margin was 62-38. A few provisional and military ballots remain to be counted.

Meanwhile, former city treasurer Greg Gustek will be returning to the post after a four-year absence. Gustek garnered less than 51 percent of the vote in a narrow 1,625 to 1,573 decision over Janice L. Roberts, who previously served on the city council.

“I’m trying to be calm and cool, but my heart is beating a thousand times faster than normal,” an elated Holcomb said following the final tabulation’s announcement just before 9 p.m. at the Jefferson County Election Commission office. “I’m excited and ready to go to work for the first ward.”

Holcomb said he feels honored to have been entrusted with the council post by his friends and supporters. Holcomb also spoke affectionately of his mother.

“I have big shoes to fill,” he said. “I’m proud to be Irene Holcomb’s son.”

Holcomb, a local pastor, said he’ll carry on his mother’s tradition of “standing firm” on his beliefs, and while he plans to continue many of her projects, he is also eager to “begin my own record of service with my ward and the whole city.”

For Carroll, the loss was his second of the year. In May, he was third in a three-candidate Democratic primary for county judge. The long-time Pine Bluff School District principal will leave politics, at least temporarily, in January.

Gustek, who served as treasurer from 1997 to 2008, said by telephone that he was “happy and grateful” with his win.

“I want to thank all the voters, especially my supporters,” said Gustek, director of the Pine Bluff Convention and Visitors Bureau and executive director of the Pine Bluff Festival Association. “My supporters have done their job by putting me back in office, and now it’s time for me to do my job as city treasurer for all the citizens.”

Roberts, a program manager with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, led the ticket in a three-candidate race on Nov. 6. Retired Arkansas State Police Capt. Lloyd Franklin Sr. was third.

“I want to congratulate Ms. Roberts and Capt. Franklin for running clean, quality campaigns,” said Gustek. “I wish them the best.”

The Jefferson County Election Commission will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday at the election center, 123 Main St., to review provisional ballots from the runoff. Other commission policies may be discussed and any matters coming properly before the commission will be considered.