Debe Hollingsworth makes her way through a crowd at Harbor Oaks after being introduced as the assumed new mayor of Pine Bluff on Tuesday. (Special to the Commercial/William Harvey)
Debe Hollingsworth hugs her family and friends seconds after hearing that she has won a plurality in preliminary results in the mayoral contest Tuesday in Pine Bluff at Harbor Oaks. (Special to the Commercial/William Harvey)
UPDATED at 1 a.m. with 100 percent precincts reporting — Hollingsworth wins with 8,318 votes (49 percent). Other totals: Redus 3,001 (18 percent), Walker (10 percent), Mays 1,255 (7.47 percent), Davis 1,001 (6 percent), Daniels 570 (3 percent), Broughton 502 (3 percent), James 459 (3 percent), Whisenhunt 78 (0.5 percent).
Political novice Debe Hollingsworth on Tuesday apparently ousted two-term incumbent Carl A. Redus Jr., in the Pine Bluff mayoral race. With 89 of 112 precincts reporting, Hollingsworth led Redus by a vote margin of 7,733 to 2,889 — a percentage margin of 48.9 to 18.3.
To win outright without a runoff, the leading candidate had to have at least 40 percent of the total vote and be at least 20 percent ahead of the runner-up.
“I haven’t slowed down enough to even think about it,” Hollingworth, a 60-year-old businesswoman and former Pine Bluff Civil Service Commission member, said at her campaign watch party at Harbor Oaks. “It’s a blessing, but it’s not just a win for me. I see it as a win for the people, a win for Pine Bluff.
“It’s not about just one person,” she continued. “The biggest thing about it to me is the people have been writing and saying they wanted the type of leadership that could bridge the gap among people here. Tonight, that gap has been narrowed significantly, and people will be working together for a better Pine Bluff.”
A former investment banker, stockbroker and state bank examiner, Hollingsworth had campaigned on a five-point “New Direction” platform, citing crime fighting, economic development, city government enhancements, bettering the city’s image and improving education as her primary goals.
Efforts to contact Redus were unsuccessful.
A 62-year-old former banker and businessman, Redus had campaigned primarily on what he proclaimed as accomplishments of his eight-year administration, although his critics had downplayed his leadership abilities and even accused him of actually opposing some of the developments for which he took credit. Redus, who lost a recent lawsuit that would have suspended the mayoral election for another two years and automatically qualified him for city retirement in 2014, has also drawn heat for his continued defense of Police Chief Brenda Davis-Jones — whom he selected for the post after the city’s Civil Service Commission was dissolved by the city council — as well as for the city’s crime problems, its image and its need for economic development and more jobs.
Rounding out the field were:
• Alderwoman Thelma Walker — 1,568 votes, 9.92 percent.
• Alderman Steven Mays — 1,177, 7.44.
• Clarence E. Davis — 890, 5.63.
• Peter F. Daniels Jr. – 548, 3.47.
• Kent Broughton – 491, 3.11.
• John James Jr. – 451, 2.85.
• Tim Whisenhunt – 65, 0.41.