by Max Brantley
He said on Facebook last night that he has one and that report was bracketed for me with an independent report of the same information from another North Little Rock politico who usually has his finger on the northside pulse.
Too early to call Mayor Pat Hays himself, but Scott says:
Mayor Hays is NOT running for re-election next Fall according to two sources in City Hall. Look for the newspaper article soon. Reportedly Joe Smith, the NLR City Commerce Director will be running for the Mayor's office.
Pat Hays has been playing it coy about re-election next year after what seems like a century in the office. The recent sales tax election was seen by many as something of a proxy on another re-election bid by Hays. Two proposals were narrowly defeated.
State Rep. Tracy Steele has all but made official his candidacy regardless of Hays' decision. I've had my quarrels about Steele, particularly his paying himself a handsome salary to lead a private foundation that spends most of its money on Steele's salary and depends on contributions from corporate entities that happen to also find it useful to stay friendly with an Arkansas legislator. I don't have any reason to believe he'd operate any differently as mayor. Commented one of my correspondents, however:
I know you have issues with Tracy, but I think he's at least one who cares about people in the "crescent" as I call it. Rose City up E. Washington along the river to Baring Cross, Amboy and Levy. The good ole boys downtown are all a'twitter about having to beat Tracy because he'll end their playtime.
Potential issue: The Argenta City Club, a group of Hays' movers and shakers and a building looked after by the city for their use.
UPDATE: I caught up with the mayor after lunch.
"I appreciate Scott Miller sharing what hasn't been decided yet," said the mayor (jovially). He said he was sticking for now with what he'd said before: "I'm running until I say otherwise."
He said, "to be candid," that the fact that he'd served almost 24 years and that he was nearing 65 were both factors in considering what he might do next year. He said he'd set a deadline of the first half of January to decide what he planned to do and to communicate it. "Over the holidays I'm going to give it some real serious thought," he said.
UPDATE II: Meanwhile, a statement rolls in from occasional NLR candidate and gadfly Bubba Lloyd, who says he might consider a mayoral race in 2012:
"The time has come for Mayor Pat Hays to stop complaining about his failed attempt to further burden the hard-working citizens of North Little Rock with higher taxes. The sole purpose of the recent tax proposal was to give the mayor and his cronies more of our money to waste on their pet projects.
"North Little Rock residents have grown weary of the arrogance of the mayor and Terry Hartwick at the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. They claim that "people just don't understand." Of course they understand. They understand that Hays and Hartwick wanted more of our money for their slush funds, and they said "no" even though tens of thousands of dollars were spent trying to force this down our throats.
"North Little Rock residents support the police and the firefighters. They resent it when the mayor tries to tie support for these public servants to his slush funds. But the mayor continues to talk about what he will have to cut in an effort to scare taxpayers and force them to second guess their votes. We're not going to be swayed by his scare tactics.
"The fact is that Pat Hays could care less about a streamlined, lean budget. Hays, along with aldermen such as Beth White and Linda Robinson, continue to travel the country on our dime. And Hays continues to push projects that will further burden North Little Rock taxpayers. His plan to build a lodge in Burns Park is an example of that. He can't manage to balance the budget without new taxes, yet he continues to dream up schemes that will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars and compete with private businesses.
"As he enters his final year in office, I hope Hays will not further commit North Little Rock residents to such costly projects that aren't needed."