OPINION | VIVIAN FLOWERS: Flowers rebuts critics

Thank you for the many calls and text messages of concern to me and to my family about the dirty politics and lies waged against my supporters and me over the airwaves, via text, through email, on social media posts, and even on a website "paid for" by a non-existent dark-money organization.

But let me tell you three important things to remember now and when the real work starts:

1. These poli-tricks against my supporters and me are meant only to distract you from the truth that led two-thirds of primary voters to vote for change away from the current mayor.

2. The lies and misinformation spread across numerous platforms are all being orchestrated through anonymous letters and websites, a non-existent dark-money organization, and a paid radio disc jockey attempting to influence your vote away from the truth.

3. Make no mistake... this dirty campaigning is a strategic response in opposition to our call for transparency and for a forensic audit that I committed to pursue at the first candidate forum before the primary, which the current mayor refused to commit to.

And for the record:

1. I live in Pine Bluff. The only home I have ever purchased is my home in Pine Bluff, and I have resided there since 2005. I do not live in Little Rock or rent space there during the legislative session.

2. In almost 10 years of legislative service, I paid one fine for filing my contribution disclosure report late -- not 32 fines as reported on the smear website.

3. In nearly 10 years of legislative service and thousands of votes, I have been absent a total of six days. The current mayor and the fake dark-money organization citing that I "missed" key votes know that legislators can vote Yes, No, Present or not vote while still sitting at our desks.

4. In 2023, I sponsored HB1013, a bi-partisan bill to restore the 2nd Amendment rights of nonviolent offenders, after a 10-year period following completion of all punishment and restitution. Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus leadership, Democrats and Republicans, including my Pine Bluff colleague and "partner in service," Rep. Ken Ferguson co-sponsored this legislation that was ultimately supported by the Attorney General and other law enforcement organizations.

5. I have consistently opposed and supported measures based on the best interest of the people of my district, including Pine Bluff:

a. I publicly endorsed and voted for the recent school millage while working to ensure that the Pine Bluff School District was returned to local control.

b. I publicly opposed the casino measure because the state and local tax rate was one of the lowest in the nation, and Saracen leadership with their lobbyist refused to put their promises to support local businesses and organizations in writing, like other casinos in the nation have done. Moreover, because the measure is an amendment to the Constitution, there is no local or legislative authority to change the law without another expensive state ballot initiative to amend the Constitution.

c. I expressed concern about how the Library tax was being presented. I was skeptical about the initial lack of transparency but have congratulated and supported the library and its campaign leader, who has since donated to my campaign and is a member of my campaign committee.

d. Along with the people of Pine Bluff, I publicly opposed and voted against the Go Forward 5/8 cent sales tax as well as the 3/8 cent Public Safety tax. I voted against the public safety measure, because it was a forever tax with no sunset. Moreover, it was too broadly written, with no guarantees that our dim public lighting and nonexistent public surveillance would be addressed.

6. As I was drawing this letter to a close, I received a call from a local leader expressing disgust that my professional record at UAMS is now being dishonestly disparaged. The paid disc jockey has claimed that I was fired from UAMS. This fabrication could not be further from the truth.

After three years of serving as director of Recruitment for Diversity, I was promoted to chief operating officer in 2010 and subsequently performed successfully until I resigned in April 2016 so I could pursue and succeed in the state and national legislative leadership roles that I will now use to help grow Pine Bluff.

I hope I have adequately addressed the fallacies that some have poured a lot of time and money into, in order to distract voters and maintain the status quo that is failing our city and her people.

From here on out, I will focus on continuing to share my priorities, honestly discuss the record, and prepare to do the real work of the people as your next mayor of Pine Bluff!

Rep. Vivian Flowers is running for mayor of Pine Bluff.

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