Jefferson County Republican Committee says Pine Bluff election law is illegal

PINE BLUFF (KATV) - A move to make traditionally non-partisan municipal elections partisan by the Pine Bluff City Council last year is now being called out by the Jefferson County Republican Committee as illegal.

The city council passed Resolution 3551 back in December 2012. The resolution requests that Jefferson County political parties hold primaries for municipal offices beginning in 2014. It was sponsored by aldermen Charles Boyd, George Stepps, Thelma Walker, Glen Brown & Irene Holcomb. Holcomb is no longer on the city council.

Peter Smykla, Jefferson County Republican Committee chairman, sent a press release out on Sunday claiming the city council has no authority, under Arkansas Code, to instruct a county board of election commissioners to conduct partisan elections for municipal offices. Smykla said that, "under advice of counsel, the Jefferson County Republican Committee respectfully declines to participate in a violation of Arkansas Voting Law." The state party is now urging the city council to revoke the resolution.

Smykla continued to mention that the resolution, "appears to be an effort by the Democrat Central Committee to suppress municipal candidates after the last election (which had 9 mayoral candidates)." The release mentioned if that were the case, that the resolution doesn't do its job since any voter can still run for Pine Bluff municipal office as an independent candidate with only 30 signatures on their filing petition.

Sponsors of the resolution and the Jefferson County Democratic Committee Chair, Theodis "Ted" Davis, were attempted to be reached for comment, but were unavailable for comment or declined to interview.

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