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Little Rock directors pick eight finalists for city board vacancy

Board to fill spot left vacant by Hendrix’s death by Ashton Eley | October 6, 2021 at 7:13 a.m.
FILE — Little Rock City Hall is shown in this 2019 file photo.

In an executive session during Tuesday's meeting, the Little Rock Board of Directors narrowed to eight its list of applicants to fill the Ward 1 vacancy.

The board received 20 applications to fill the position previously held by City Director Erma Hendrix, 91, who died Sept. 8.

The eight candidates announced once the board came out of executive session were:

• Michael Adkins, 55, who has lived in Ward 1 for more than 40 years and has been in law enforcement, including for Little Rock, for more than 30 years, according to his application.

• Frederick D. Gentry, 44, who has spent more than 16 years helping more than a dozen civic organizations, including previously serving as president of the Arkansas Foundation board of directors and currently serving as president of the Historic Pettaway Neighborhood Association, according to his resume.

• Sheila Taylor Miles, 60, who has spent time serving the community as the president and chief executive officer of the Wright Avenue Neighborhood Association.

• Virgil L. Miller, 68, who currently works as the group community reinvestment act director for Arvest Bank Operations in Little Rock and has held a long career of banking jobs in the city, according to his resume.

• Sarah Pilcher, 39, who is president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association and works as a community outreach specialist and an emergency preparedness coordinator for the Community Health Centers of Arkansas, according to her resume.

• Valerie Pruitt, 63, who most recently was the executive director for The Reform Alliance, a nonprofit focused on education reform and school choice opportunities for Arkansas students, her resume states.

• Anika Whitfield, 48, who is the co-chair and organizer of many advocacy organizations in the region, including Arkansas Poor People's Campaign, Grassroots Arkansas, No Taxation Without Representation and Save Our Schools.

• Karen Zuccardi, 38, who is a sustainable economic development consultant and program associate, according to her resume.

The board had planned to decide on seven applicants, but Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said there was a tie.

The board will hear presentations from the eight finalists next Tuesday and will then vote publicly at 4 p.m. Oct. 13 on who will fill the seat. Both meetings will be held at the Centre at University Park and will also be streamed on the city's YouTube channel.

Whoever is appointed will take over Hendrix's term, which ends in January 2023, and will be able to run for a full term in next year's election for the Ward 1 seat.

The ward's boundaries encompass Little Rock's downtown core, a series of communities south of Interstate 630 and much of the area surrounding the airport.

In other business, the board voted for a Small Business Advisory Council to be formed in October 2021 to advise the Board of Directors on policies affecting small businesses in Little Rock.

"This is a significant step in our efforts to help create and grow small businesses," At-large City Director Antwan Phillips said via Twitter after the vote.

The city directors also voted 8-1, with City Director Ken Richardson of Ward 2 voting against, to table the decision on a city self-insured group health plan until the next regular meeting on Oct. 19. The city staff recommended approving this plan.

Several board members said they were not prepared to vote and wanted more time to consider the issue.

Scott voiced concern that delaying the issue could have a negative effect on city employees.

The board also voted 7-2, with At-large City Director Joan Adcock and Ward 6 City Director Doris Wright against, to amend Ordinance No. 21,946 (December 29, 2020) to adjust the fiscal 2021 ordinance to reflect revenue and expenditure adjustments for the general fund, street fund, fleet fund, vehicle storage fund, waste disposal fund and parking garage fund.

CORRECTION: Frederick D. Gentry is one of eight remaining applicants to fill the Ward 1 vacancy. An earlier version of this story misspelled Gentry’s name.

Print Headline: Little Rock directors pick eight finalists for city board vacancy

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