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Candidates for North Little Rock mayor note campaign contributions

by Stephen Simpson | November 2, 2020 at 7:15 a.m.
North Little Rock City Hall is shown in this 2020 file photo.

The four candidates in North Little Rock's hotly contested mayoral race have raised close to a combined $374,000 in campaign contributions, with a bulk of the money raised by the two men running for the office.

The candidates are running to replace Mayor Joe Smith, who chose not to run for reelection and will leave office in January. Early voting ends today, with Election Day on Tuesday.

State law requires candidates to submit pre-election reports no later than seven days before the election if they have an opponent and have raised or spent more than $500, not counting the filing fee. Candidates also must submit a final report no later than 30 days after the end of the month of the election.

Penalties for violating the state law that requires filing the forms range from cautionary letters to fines from the Arkansas Ethics Commission.

State law allows candidates to fund their campaigns with an unlimited amount of their own money, reported as loans from themselves, which can be paid off with campaign contributions from others.

Terry Hartwick, the former mayor of North Little Rock and the city's parks and recreation director, has raised the most among the candidates, with $223,553 in donations. He also lent himself $3,000.

Hartwick reported spending $210,245.39, leaving him with $16,307.61, according to his financial report.

Hartwick announced on Oct. 9, 2019, his intentions to run for mayor, becoming the first candidate to formally announce his plans.

The maximum contribution allowed for the 2020 election cycle is $2,800. Hartwick received seven donations of that amount, from real estate professional Keith Richardson; farmer Tommy Murchison; philanthropist Karen Flake; Steve Owen Sr., president and CEO of CompleteCare Inc.; business owner Sidney Richmond; Roger Marlin, president and CEO of Hydco Construction; and Jeremy Hyde, vice president of Hydco Construction.

Tracy Steele, director of the Arkansas Health Services Permit Agency and a member of the North Little Rock School Board, announced Nov. 4, 2019, that he would make his second bid to become North Little Rock's mayor.

He ran in 2012 and led a field of four on election night before losing to Smith in a runoff.

Steele reported raising $116,281.51 and lent himself $3,000, according to his financial report. He had a total of $95,422.74 in expenditures, leaving him with $23,858.77.

He received four donations of $2,800, from retiree Elaine Carpenter; Mark Clinton, a consultant for Decisive Management Group Inc.; farmer Carlos Carpenter; and Croom Firm executive Sandra Mitchell.

Steele also received donations from a number of North Little Rock residents, including business owners, teachers, attorneys and employees of state and federal agencies. The list included Keith McGee, assistant superintendent for the North Little Rock School District, and Jacquelyn Murphy, an administrative assistant for the North Little Rock School District.

Debi Ross, a North Little Rock City Council member who represents Ward 1, a seat she has held since 2007, had $1,217.51 at the beginning of the reporting period and raised an additional $32,060 for her campaign.

Ross had $24,167.79 in expenditures, leaving $9,109.72 in her campaign fund.

Ross was the last candidate to enter the mayor's race, announcing her intention of running Aug. 5, the last day of the filing period.

She received three donations of $2,800, from David Rainwater, a partner with Mangan Holcomb Partners; Becky Rainwater, a homemaker; and John Riley, a broker with J.W. Nutt Co. Brokers.

Her campaign donations came in from various residents of North Little Rock, but mostly from retired residents.

Ross spent $11,015.40 on advertising and an additional $10,505.40 on direct mail.

Alice Kunce reported raising $1,904.23. She lent her campaign $6,611.76 and had $8,145.19 in expenditures.

Kunce's campaign did not receive a monetary contribution of more than $50, according to her financial report.

Kunce, who announced her intention of running March 17, spent $2,850 on campaign workers, with $5,294.39 going to texting platforms, postage and voter databases.

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