Editor's Note: We are working on reaction quotes from candidates. Please check back with us online or in Thursday's print edition. Due to press deadlines, our print edition for Wednesday did not include final vote tallies or extensive candidate interviews.
A veteran Pine Bluff alderman was voted out of office during Tuesday's Democratic Primary and another is heading into a runoff with a political newcomer. No Republicans ran for City Council in the primary.
Former Pine Bluff Police Chief Ivan Whitfield defeated Alderman Bill Brumett, who is currently the senior member of the council, for the Ward 3 seat by a vote of 833 to 625. All results are complete but unofficial until the Jefferson County Election Commission certifies them.
Former Alderman Glen Brown was also vying for the Ward 3 slot but only received 200 votes.
On his Facebook page, Brumett said Tuesday night that he was "very disappointed."
In Ward 1, Joni Alexander and Alderwoman Thelma Walker will head to a runoff after Alexander failed to garner 50 percent of the vote. She received 577 votes to Walker's 404. Milton H. Jenkins received 371 votes.
In Ward 4, Alderman Steven Mays easily defeated opponent Clarence Davis by a vote count of 480 to 281.
Mays said that he thanked God for the victory.
“I want to thank the constituents in the Fourth Ward for another vote of confidence,” he said. “My main goal when I started my first day eight years ago was to work for Pine Bluff. I will continue to give people in the Fourth Ward 100 percent every day.”
Whitfield spent 35 years with the Pine Bluff Police Department and was making his third bid for elected office. It was his first involving only the City of Pine Bluff, however. He previously ran for Jefferson County judge.
“This is a different elected office, but I have the same work habits I’ve always had, and I want to work for the residents of the Third Ward,” he said in a previous interview.
Asked about Go Forward Pine Bluff, Whitfield said it came about “because the council failed to do what the citizens wanted them to do. Go Forward offered to look out for the welfare of the people when the council wouldn’t.”
“If the council would not fight and argue, they would get things done,” he said.
In Ward 1, the winner of the runoff will be opposed by the Rev. Jesse Turner, a Republican, in the November General Election.
A native of Pine Bluff and a graduate of Watson Chapel High School, Alexander received a degree from Virginia Commonwealth and taught English in Korea before returning to the city, where she created the Youth Engagement Service program and more recently has served as director of Student Achievement and Responsibility, which is modeled after the successful PARK program started by former professional football player Keith Jackson in Little Rock.
“I think I have a unique advantage because I was actually able to see what goes on and to learn about city government,” she said. “What they can and can’t do and the reason why or why not.”
Alexander said she believes Pine Bluff is on the brink of being revived but that is going to involve people making the right decision to put the right people in the right places.
“We have the wrong mindset about ways to address poverty and crime,” she said. “They are symptoms of failed public policies, and we need to fix our policies.”