Pine Bluff voters have one more hurdle to clear in the race to the finish line of Election 2012. Two runoff elections, one citywide and the second for Ward 1 residents, will take place Nov. 27.
The contest for city treasurer is between former Pine Bluff alderman Janice L. Roberts and former city treasurer Greg Gustek and while the next Ward 1 alderman will be either local pastor, Lloyd A. Holcomb Jr., or Justice of the Peace Alfred Carroll.
In the general election, complete but unofficial totals show:
• Roberts — 7,144 votes
• Gustek — 5,187 votes
Roberts served on the city council for six years, and is currently a program manager with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.
Roberts has emphasized her financial experience during the campaign.
“I want to enhance the position by advising the mayor and making sound projections,” Roberts said. “I have established relationships with financial institutions and I’m familiar with applicable laws. I also did budget work for the city when I was with the council, and I plan to create a website showing financial data so citizens can obtain information whenever they might want it.”
Roberts, who has a 25 year-background in accounting, has degrees in business economics and public administration.
Gustek served as city treasurer between 1997 and 2008 and is currently director of the Pine Bluff Convention and Visitors Bureau and executive director of the Pine Bluff Festival Association.
Gustek emphasized during the campaign that he is the lone candidate with experience in the office that he is running for.
“I’ve been in the job and saw it through several progressions in the past,” Gustek said. “I’m experienced with budgets and I’m ready to implement some improvements needed for the future. I’m already familiar with the responsibilities of the job, which is to be the banker for the city. The treasurer doesn’t work for the mayor or the city, but rather for the taxpayers.”
Ward 1 Alderman
Complete but unofficial totals in the general election show:
• Holcomb — 1,683 votes
• Carroll — 1,297 votes
Holcomb is the son of retiring Ward 1 Alderman Irene Holcomb and looks forward to carving out his own legacy.
“I love Pine Bluff and have been a resident of the First Ward for over 37 years,” he said. “I want to represent the First Ward into a new generation of progress. My campaign theme is ‘A new voice; a new vision; a new brand of politics.’ I intend to move forward in making this city a better place for everyone. We need to reduce crime and make the quality of living better for all residents and put Pine Bluff back on the right track.”
Holcomb said that if elected he will work for the betterment of Pine Bluff’s citizens by working to enhance legislation already in place.
“I want to thank my supporters for their hard work and for getting us this far,” Holcomb said. “In the runoff I’ll work even harder and want to encourage everyone to please go out and vote.”
Carroll, who is also principal of Southwood Elementary School, said he believes his past experience and his ability to translate ideas into action make him the right choice for Ward 1.
“I’m the only one of the five candidates that put out tangible kinds of ideas to make a positive impact on this ward,” Carroll said. “I have put out the most comprehensive information on those ideas. I have not wavered from my focus on education, the economy, the elderly and the youth. We’ve been able to articulate well-thought-out plans on how we will go about doing what we said we will do. I don’t think the other candidates have given thought to the actual nuts and bolts of taking a concept from beginning to accomplishing what you say you will do.”
Carroll said his experience as a member of the Jefferson County Quorum Court, as an educator and as a minister have given him the tools to succeed as an alderman.
“In each area, one could say that I consistently get things done by challenging myself and those around me to do better, to give more and to do more,” Carroll said.
“It’s been a tough campaign,” Carroll said. “I look forward to finishing what we started and serving the people of Ward 1. There is a lot of hard work ahead of us.”
Early voting for the runoff will be held in the office of the County Clerk at the Jefferson County Courthouse on Nov. 20, 21 and 26 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. The runoff election will be held Nov. 27 from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the assigned voter polling sites.
Staff writer Rick Joslin contributed to this story.