The mayor’s race got a lot more interesting with the entrance of Councilman Preston Lewis into the race. I won’t go into the noise that has already appeared on Facebook, but I can tell it’s going to be hotly contested race.
Lewis got pretty good coverage on television, which seemed to be where his focus was. This paper didn’t receive his announcement of his candidacy until late last Tuesday after it already had been announced on Facebook and television.
Mayor Mike Watson noted in an interview with this paper last week that the city went through a strategic planning process a year ago and that the mayoral campaign will likely consist of "differences of opinion between Alderman Lewis and myself on issues that have come up" at Maumelle City Council meetings. You think?
This race should shape up to be one of the most interesting since Watson defeated Burch Johnson in 2006. The mayor’s job pays $78,000 per year.
We have two candidates to fill the position of City Attorney JaNan Davis. Davis has done an outstanding job and we will miss her work in our district court and at council meetings.
J. E. Jess Sweere of Maumelle recently announced his candidacy for city attorney. Sweere, a Director in the firm Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus. He joins Councilman Caleb Norris, who has already declared for the position. He is a litigation attorney with the Arkansas Municipal League in North Little Rock. More on this race later. Could be more candidates in this one.
In the City Council races:
• Ward 2, Position 2: Rick Anderson has filed for reelection.
• Ward 3, Position 2: Marion Scott has filed for the position held by Burch Johnson, who I believe is not running for reelection.
• Other council members whose terms will expire this year include Ken Saunders in Ward 1, Position 2, and Jane Hogue, Ward 4, Position 2, who had not filed by my deadline, but I believe they plan to do so.
Interestingly, should Lewis win the mayor’s race and/or Norris win the city attorney race, the council would be charged with naming their replacements. If they lose, they will retain their council seats.
The filing deadline for all Pulaski County races is this Friday.
The council must find a solution to uncollected revenue
Discussions have been intense within the council and citizens regarding collecting the uncollected revenue from a group of scofflaws who have chosen to not pay their fair share of our city and garbage service fees. If the details can be worked out, it appears that the council is leaning toward tying payments to the water bill. So, if you don’t pay your fees, you lose your water.
Alderman Burch Johnson gave those in attendance at last Monday’s council meeting a handout regarding the uncollected revenue. Among the points made on Johnson’s handout titled, "Some Pay, Some Don’t":
• Since 2007 through 2013, the "allowance for doubtful accounts" or money not collected is over $600,000.
• The city has write-offs of over $250,000 in the past seven years.
• He says the write-offs and the doubtful accounts create the potential for write-offs of over $820,000.
• He says a "bomb is waiting to hit us."
Do I understand Johnson’s math or the city’s accounting methods? No. But the bottom line is we are allowing 8 percent of Maumelle residents to avoid paying revenue that the city could certainly use. Johnson’s handout discusses the possibility of adding a 1percent sales tax that would eliminate the city and garbage fees. I think that would go over like the proverbial lead balloon.
I would encourage you all to contact your councilman and ask them to resolve this quickly. Tell them, " I want everyone to pay his fair share." I do. The councilmen’s email addresses are on the Maumelle website.
Monday night’s council meeting should be interesting.
Candidate’s forum coming in October
Watch this paper for an exciting announcement of a candidate’s forum sponsored by the Maumelle Monitor and possibly a citizen’s group. It will take place sometime in October at a location to be determined. The paper will invite all of the municipal candidates to speak.
The traffic is coming. Take your patience pill!
Last Monday marked the beginning of school at some of the schools. Most of the schools begin on August 18. Be prepared for slower traffic during the hours of 7 to 8 a.m. and more stack-ups later in the afternoon. One of the reasons for major back-ups is fender-benders along the way. The traffic flow is a very fragile flow. Try not to be the reason it all comes to a halt. Pay attention and put your phone down.
Something tells me the timing of the heavy traffic will escalate the discussion of a third entrance in the mayor’s race. Will we see candidates standing on Maumelle Boulevard with signs telling us we need a third entrance? I think can of one candidate who will probably do just that.
See you on the Boulevard.
Neal Moore is COE (Chief of Everything) at Neal Moore Creative, a PR, advertising and marketing consultancy. If you have a community concern or if you’re just irritated about something contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, @kneelmore.