Sabin plans campaign for mayor
With Little Rock state Rep. Warwick Sabin looking at entering the Capitol city’s mayoral race, several candidates have emerged to vie for the Democratic nomination to his House seat.
Two hopefuls, local attorney Ross Noland and Central High School English teacher Tippi McCullough, said they plan to enter the race.
In addition, landscape architect Mark Robertson said Monday that he’s weighing whether to mount a campaign.
The House election for a two-year term will be held in November 2018 at the same time Little Rock residents will pick a mayor.
A Democrat, Sabin is serving in his third term at the state Capitol, which lies within his district. He announced last week that he is “exploring” entering the mayoral race.
The incumbent mayor, Democrat Mark Stodola, says he is running for re-election.
Sabin’s announcement came in the week after a shooting between rival groups at a downtown night club left 25 people injured.
The city also has grappled with an increase in violent crime this year, including shootings and homicides.
Sabin cited public safety as an issue in announcing his exploratory bid, as did several of those eyeing his legislative seat.
“Our district is concerned right now about crime and education,” Noland said in a phone interview Monday.
All three potential rivals said they would seek to have the Little Rock School District placed back under local control. The state took control of the district and dissolved the school board in 2015, after test scores put six of the district’s 48 schools in academic distress.
In addition to educational issues, McCullough, 53, said she would focus a large part of her campaign on health issues, from supporting the state’s private-option Medicaid expansion and bike trails to battling the opioid addiction crisis. McCullough is the Democratic Party chair for Pulaski County.
Noland, 36, also heads the nonprofit Buffalo River Foundation and said he would also make environmental issues and civil rights central to his campaign.
Robertson, 63, who unsuccessfully challenged Sabin in the 2012 Democratic primary for the then-open seat, said if he decides to run again, he will campaign on support for public education and offering legislation to support renewable energy.
“I’m looking at where the resources are and the support, and laying that out,” Robertson said. “I’ve got a decision to make.”
Both McCullough and Noland said they have started forming campaigns and collecting donations, though their first campaign finance reports have not been published by the Secretary of State’s office.
Sabin said Monday that he’s focused on exploring a candidacy for mayor and did not offer a public endorsement for any candidate.
District 33, which includes downtown, the Hillcrest neighborhood and parts of midtown, has a heavy Democratic tilt, and Republicans have not bothered to put up a candidate in recent elections.