Jefferson County Election Commission: Pine Bluff will have 2014 mayor's race

Debe Hollingsworth, Pine Bluff Mayor

PINE BLUFF (KATV) - Will Pine Bluff elect a mayor this year or in 2016?{} That's the question many in Jefferson County are asking, but the Jefferson County Election Commission has made up their mind that there will be an election - despite the Secretary of State's office and the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney advising otherwise.

When Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth took the stage at Monday night's State of the City address - it was all business for Hollingsworth, except for when she made a quick joke saying she looks forward to serving as mayor for the next three years.

"Did y'all catch that one?{} Thank you, thank you," commented Hollingsworth.

Although Hollingsworth made the joke, she doesn't take the situation lightly.{} Hollingsworth was caught off guard when former Pine Bluff mayor Carl Redus filed for mayor again this year - despite the city not planning on holding a municipal election until 2016.{}

But the Jefferson County Election Commission voted 2-1 to hold the election.

"State law indicates that there should be a midterm election here in the City of Pine Bluff," said Ted Davis, Jefferson County Election Commission chairman.

Davis said it all has to do with Pine Bluff's population.{} The amount of people residing within Pine Bluff fell below 50,000 citizens in 2010.{} According to the Arkansas Municipal League's January 2014 issue, citing ACA 14-43-305, a first class city with a population less than 50,000 people with a mayor-council form of government - the office of mayor will be elected.

The rule Davis cites though was the same rule Redus used in 2012 to prevent an election from being held - subsequently keeping him in office for another two years until the "proper" election was held in 2014.{} The judge, Judge Jay Moody, ruled against him and Debe Hollingsworth ran and was elected.

"What the judge opined was, in the cases where a city of the first class drops below 50,000 - nothing changes," said Stu Soffer, minority party election commissioner for Jefferson County.

It's why Soffer voted against holding a Pine Bluff municipal election in 2014.{}

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney, S. Kyle Hunter, also issued a decision to the Jefferson County Election Commission stating, "It is my opinion that the offices of the Pine Bluff Mayor, City Clerk and City Treasurer will not be open for election until 2016."

Hunter cited Judge Moody's final order stating, "the law that initially set the time for the Pine Bluff Mayoral election still applies even though the city's population has decreased below 50,000."

Redus is currently the only person filed to run for mayor in Pine Bluff for the 2014 election, but Hollingsworth can file as an independent candidate up until August.

The only way the election won't happen this year is if someone asks for a judge to make a declaratory ruling, upholding Judge Moody's 2012 decision.{} Hollingsworth said she hasn't filed that lawsuit yet, but said she's weighing her options.