Pine Bluff Ward 4 alderman race pits incumbent against two challengers


The candidates for the Pine Bluff Ward 4 alderman seat are incumbent George Stepps and challengers Bruce Lockett and Fred Toney.

Stepps

Incumbent George Stepps said he believes his record as alderman makes him the right choice for Ward 4 voters.

“First of all, I’ve done a great job in the Fourth Ward,” Stepps said. “Anybody who calls me, I respond to them. I always return my calls.”

Stepps pointed to his contribution to getting three homes near the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff constructed.

“I worked very diligently on that project to provide more affordable housing in Pine Bluff,” Stepps said. “I also worked diligently to keep the halfway house for parolees that was proposed by the Department of Community Corrections away from the west side.”

Stepps said that he worked hard to get the city sales tax passed in 2011.

“I work very closely with UAPB,” Stepps said. “Our citizens are the most important asset we have in this city. I have been very hospitable to the residents of this ward. This whole city needs to become a city of hospitality. If we show that to each other and the businesses that come here, we will change our image.”

Stepps said he also sponsored a city ordinance that forced a wrecking yard on the west side of town to build a fence blocking the wrecked vehicles from view of the road.

“I think the latest legislation that I submitted in the council is very important,” Stepps said. “People are concerned about the recent shootings in convenience stores, and [requiring] video surveillance cameras [in such stores] will do a lot to increase public safety. I have been getting many words of support and encouragement on my proposal.”

Lockett

Bruce Lockett said he intends to put his experience in grant writing to good use if elected to the Ward 4 seat.

“My background is in community nonprofit organizations with an emphasis on managing city resources,” Lockett said. “I would like to assist local nonprofits in working with city departments such as parks and recreation to apply for grants for youth activities and community development.”

Lockett said that he intends to leverage city resources to acquire grants.

“Foundations favor organizations and agencies that have a monetary match to go along with the money that is requested,” Lockett said.

Lockett said that, as an alderman, he will be involved in the community.

“City Council members must be more aware of what is happening in our individual wards,” Lockett said. “I chaired the Jefferson County Boys and Girls Club and the Clean and Beautiful Commission. I believe in being hands on and actively engaged.

“I think we need a change in the way we do things across the board,” Lockett said. “If we want different results, we are going to have to elect different people. I wouldn’t have run if I thought the incumbent was doing what needed to be done.”

Toney

Frederick M. Toney said he wants to do what he can to improve the economy in Pine Bluff.

“Pine Bluff is the anchor of the Southeast Arkansas economy,” Toney said in a press release announcing his candidacy. “The leadership of Pine Bluff has the awesome challenge of creating a competitive environment for economic growth for its citizens and coordinating with county, regional, state and federal agencies to promote and stimulate economic development of this region. I am willing to become a part of the leadership structure of Pine Bluff and will diligently work to build a strong local and regional economy.”

Toney said in the release that he plans to be an advocate for neighborhood revitalization, employment opportunities, expansion of youth development programs and the efficient and effective use of the city’s resources and economic development planning.