And speaking of Mark Stodola: You want energy and ideas? | Arkansas Blog

Monday, July 10, 2017

And speaking of Mark Stodola: You want energy and ideas?

Posted By on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 10:20 AM

click to enlarge ENERGETIC: Mayor Stodola, shown at a meeting on crime in the city, says he has both energy and ideas, no matter what opponents might be suggesting to the contrary.
  • ENERGETIC: Mayor Stodola, shown at a meeting on crime in the city, says he has both energy and ideas, no matter what opponents might be suggesting to the contrary.

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola
decided today to expand on a brief remark he made Friday after Warwick Sabin announced he was likely to run for mayor in 2018 against the three-term incumbent.

Friday, Stodola said he was focused on the job at hand and that it was too early — with filing for office about 13 months away — to talk about elections. He expanded today after Sabin's photo ops around Little Rock yesterday.

Yesterday, an announcement was made about the 2018 Little Rock Mayor’s race. First, I would like to make one thing clear to the citizens and my friends and supporters to know that I do intend to run for re-election.

My number one priority right now is Little Rock and the challenges we are facing, not a political race that is 17 months away. I am going to continue to serve in my role as mayor of our great city by working with our city’s leaders and our community to tackle these challenges, from public safety to jobs and economic development to quality of life for our citizens, head-on.

Since my first day in office, I have dedicated new energy and new ideas into making Little Rock a great place for everyone to call home. Over the coming months - when it is appropriate to launch a campaign - I will look forward to a healthy debate and conversation about our city’s future. 
New energy and new ideas, by the way, are the very words in the slogan offered on Sabin's campaign material.

Stodola gets rapped by critics for a lack of energy and dynamic leadership. In some ways, he's a victim of the two-headed city government, a blend of strong mayor and professional city management. He's also a victim of money-induced captivity. He threw in with the chamber of commerce crowd, which controls the three at-large seats on the city board and, with ward representatives from the high-rent districts, generally controls most policy-making.

Its money can also be vital in mayoral races. But it is not necessarily determinative. See the recent Little Rock school millage vote, which Stodola supported and which was backed mostly by money from business people hoping to score construction, legal and bond work from a whopping tax extension. It was soundly defeated and the city's 40 percent black voter black was almost unanimously opposed. That voter segment is another factor in 2018 mayoral election math along with other potential challengers. State Rep. Clarke Tucker is seriously considering the race. A couple of prominent black professionals have talked about running. The west Little Rock Republican contingent (think Director Lance Hines) would like greater influence over city government and Stodola has always been a somewhat uneasy choice for many in the business community because of a Democratic and generally progressive outlook.

However, when you consider all Stodola has delivered to the chamber — $20 million for a tech park that put $11 million in Warren Stephens' pockets through a real estate deal; support for their concrete gulch freeway project through downtown; support for the contractors' school tax increase, and restoration of a $300,000 taxpayer subsidy for the business lobbyist payroll at the chamber — they can't very well desert him now.

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