Bryant City Council Members gathered on Thursday evening to appoint a new mayor – for now. There were initially four candidates who came forward to be considered. Two of them, Richard McKeown and Truett Smith, withdrew their names. Two others, Mark Smith and Rhonda Sanders, stood before Council to sell themselves for the seat.
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It was a special called meeting on September 28, 2023, for the sole purpose of appointing someone to be mayor – but only during the approximately 5 months until the March 5th, 2024 election. Former Mayor Allen Scott had over three years left in his term when he resigned (effective September 30, 2023). Arkansas state law says that citizens must elect a new mayor when there is over one year left a the term of one who vacates office.
The council voted for Council Member Jon Martin to lead this meeting. Martin noted that while the decision process would include going into executive session, he felt it would be best if the candidates also spoke publicly to the Council about their qualifications, and then fielded questions.
Each candidate was given 15 minutes to speak about their reasons and qualifications for holding the office of Mayor of Bryant. Rhonda Sanders was called first to the lectern. She is currently The President and CEO of the Greater Bryant Chamber of Commerce. Sanders touted her experience as CEO of the Arkansas Food Bank, turning around a dire financial situation. Mark Smith was next to speak. He currently serves as the City Clerk of Bryant. Smith spoke on his experience as General Manager of El Dorado Water Utilities.
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Both candidates were asked several questions by the Council. Council members then left the room for executive session to discuss the candidates privately. At different points, Mrs. Sanders and Mr. Smith were each asked to come in the room with the council members to answer questions.
After a little over one hour, Council members returned to resume the meeting. Council member Lisa Meyer made a motion to appoint Rhonda Sanders as Mayor for the interim. Council members took a vote by name and unanimously confirmed Mrs. Sanders as the choice. She will be sworn in on Sunday, October 1st at 2pm.
When that’s done, council members will still be dealing with the wake of Allen Scott’s resignation. Their next task on this topic will be to pass an ordinance for the election. The Presidential Primary Election is on March 5, 2024. This mayor seat will be on the ballot for registered voters residing in the Bryant city limits during that same election. According to Bryant City Attorney Ashley Clancy, the ordinance must be submitted to the Saline County Clerk 70 days prior to the election. That falls right at Christmas.
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Next of course will be that election March 5th, and swearing-in of the person who will complete the mayoral term. If you’re going to run for the office, email your campaign announcement to [email protected]. Recapping, here is the list of players:
- Soon-to-be former Mayor – Allen Scott
- City Council Member serving as volunteer Mayor until one is appointed and sworn in – Jason Brown
- Appointed Mayor Oct 1, 2023 to Mar 5, 2024 – Rhonda Sanders
- Elected in Mar 5, 2024 to complete this Mayor term – ???