Wednesday, November 07, 2012

TOP STORY >> New faces on city councils

Leader staff writer

Even though two incumbents retained their seats Tuesday, the Jacksonville City Council will still have three new faces, with one starting as early as the next council meeting.

There’ll be a new sheriff in Lonoke County and he’s coming from Ward, and a Cabot alderman who had actually dropped out of the race was re-elected.

In Beebe, two of three incumbents were re-elected. The only one sent packing was Leslie Cossey.

In Jacksonville, Rev. James E. Bolden III defeated Jim Moore to take the Ward 1, Pos. 2 seat left vacant in September by former Alderman Marshall Smith, who retired after 32 years on the council. After announcing his retirement, Smith and his wife moved to Vilonia causing him to vacate his seat.

Bolden garnered 3,726 votes, or 53 percent, to Moore’s 3,259 votes, or 47 percent.

Mayor Gary Fletcher said Bolden would be sworn in at the Nov. 15 city council meeting.

Bolden said, “I feel great to have an opportunity to serve my city at another level. I’m looking forward to forming a vision to help our youth and the economic situation here in the city, bringing more businesses, and working with my fellow aldermen to make sure we are the best city in the state.”

The remaining new aldermen, Barbara Mashburn, who ran unopposed for the Ward 3, Pos. 2 seat, and Mary Twitty, who squeaked out a win by 70 votes to take over the Ward 4, Pos. 2 seat, will be sworn into office in January.

With all precincts reporting, incumbent aldermen Terry Sansing and Bill Howard won decisively.

In a controversial race charged with accusations and racial overtones, Sansing swept all precincts and beat challenger Rizelle Aaron by more than 2,300 votes. Sansing received 4,694 votes, or 67 percent, to Aaron’s 2,294 votes, or 33 percent. Sansing has been on the council for more than two decades.

“In a word, (I’m) relieved. I was very happy to find out that the constituents by a greater than 2 to 1 margin understand and share my visions for the future growth of Jacksonville, that the citizens are looking forward to the extremely bright future that is before us,” Sansing said.

He added, “This is not just my victory. This is a victory for all the people that supported me, who voted for me and ultimately for everyone in Jacksonville. No man is an island. I could not have done it alone.”

Howard, who has about 15 years on the council, solidly defeated Roger Sundermeier Jr., 4,598 votes, or 67 percent to 2,298 votes, or 33 percent.

“I’m very elated and gratified that the people had enough confidence in me to put me back in office for another four years. My opponent Roger (Sundermeier) ran a very good race. Four years from now he might want to do that again. This will be my last term,” Howard said.

The closest race was for Linda Rinker’s Ward 3, Pos. 2 seat. Rinker opted not to run for re-election. Mary Twitty squeezed by Freddie Booker by 70 votes. Twitty garnered 3,701 votes, or 50.62 percent, to Booker’s 3,631 votes, or 49.38 percent.

Twitty said, “I’m ecstatic. It’s a victory for Jacksonville. I’m still in shock.”


John Staley, a Ward alderman and Austin Police Chief, doubled up on Chief Deputy Dean White to become the new Lonoke County sheriff. Staley, a Republican, garnered 15,145 votes, or 67 percent, to White’s 7,548 votes, or 33 percent.

The incumbent county treasurer and county clerk both lost.

Democrat Karol DePriest lost to Republican Patti Weathers in a vain effort to stay county treasurer. Weathers got 14,360 votes, or 63 percent, to DePriest’s 8,371 votes, or 37 percent.

Democrat Dawn Porterfield lost in her bid to keep her county clerk position. Republican challenger Larry Clarke received 12,649 votes, or 56 percent, to Porterfield’s 9,910 votes, or 44 percent.

Circuit Judge Phillip Whiteaker was elected associate judge to the Court of Appeals, handily defeating Jeannette Robinson. Whiteaker got 15,660 votes, or 74 percent, to Robinson’s 5,618 votes, or 26 percent.

For Lonoke City Council, John Robinson defeated Janie Deering for the Ward 1 seat, 72 votes to 35. Stacey Pennington Moore took the Ward 3 seat, defeating Pat Howell, 53 votes to 16.

In Carlisle, Chad Bennett defeated Joe Cunningham, 519 votes to 260, to gain the Ward 1, Pos. 2 council seat. W.H. Kittler squeaked by Marla Cunningham by seven votes. Kittler garnered 395 votes and Cunningham had 388.

In the battle for Austin’s Ward 1, Pos. 6 council seat, Matthew Sheets bested D.G. Hammons. Sheets grabbed 438 votes to Hammons’ 177.


In Cabot, Alderman Patrick Hutton, a federal employee, had asked that his name be taken off the ballot following complaints that his campaign materials supported the Republican Party, which appeared to be a violation of federal law.

But the request was made too late and his name stayed and he won the race for the Ward 2, Pos. 1 seat by almost 300 votes. Hutton garnered 3,633 votes, or 52 percent, compared to Dallan Buchanan’s 3,344 votes, or 48 percent.

Hutton could not be reached Tuesday night, but had said earlier that he wouldn’t serve.

Jerry Shepard, the Republican member of the three-member Lonoke County Election Commission, said last week that Buchanan didn’t become the winner of the election when Hutton announced that he was pulling out.

Hutton’s declaration that he wasn’t running created a vacancy in his position, but he must remain on the council until he is replaced, Shepard said. Since there was no controversy surrounding the race for the term Hutton is currently serving, the council could simply allow him to continue serving and not appoint a replacement.

It seems that the decision rests with Hutton.

Incumbent Angie Arm-strong Hoschouer gained another term, defeating Irene Ernst. Hoschouer received 3,528 votes, or 52 percent, to Ernst’s 3,301 votes, or 48 percent.


In Sherwood, three of the incumbent aldermen, Charlie Harmon, Kevin Lilly and Marina Brooks, were unopposed, leaving only the race for Dr. Steve Fender’s open Ward 2, Pos. 2 seat.

In that battle, Mike Sanders bested Bob Ferguson by about 300 votes. Sanders garnered 1,487 votes, or 57 percent, to Ferguson’s 1,133 votes, or 43 percent.

Sanders said, late Tuesday night, “I feel good. I feel relieved. I’m excited about the victory. It was a good race between Bob (Ferguson) and myself.”


Tracy Lightfoot and Harold Welch won their battle for their council seats, while Les Cossey lost.

Lightfoot defeated Michael Weeks, gaining 1,346 votes, or 66 percent, to Weeks’ 699 votes, or 34 percent. Welch defeated David Pruitt by slightly more than 100 votes. Welch had 1,090 votes, or 54 votes, to Pruitt’s 947 votes, or 46 percent.

Cossey, who was arrested in 2010 for stealing an opponent’s campaign signs, lost to Dale Boss. Boss garnered 1,106 votes, or 54 percent, to 955 votes, or 46 percent.