PINE BLUFF (KTHV) - It seems to be a coveted office in Pine Bluff these days with nine people wanting to be the city's mayor.
Eight newcomers are taking on current Mayor Carl Redus Jr., and all nine were at a community forum in town Thursday night.
It was a packed room of Pine Bluff voters Thursday night, sitting and standing, at the Donald Reynolds Community Services Center. They all came out to see the nine candidates running for mayor.
"Never in my life have I seen this many people wishing to be mayor," Faye Gant said.
Voter Faye Gant came out to hear out the new candidates but left feeling Mayor Carl Redus, Junior is still the best way to go.
"The current leadership is doing the job, he expressed that tonight that the city was in financial ruins when he came in and he pulled the city out," Gant said.
But others in the crowd feel Pine Bluff needs something different for its future.
"It's quite a few more than I ever remember but I think it's an indication that changes needs to take place in the city of Pine Bluff," Lewis White said.
Voter Lewis White says the forum pushed him toward one of the new candidates but he wasn't ready to say who yet. But he liked that person's target for change.
"Focusing on the the quality of life for the everyday person, improving that quality of life," White said.
We also talked to another voter who says he didn't like any of the nine candidates. One other voter told us that he hopes the eight people who don't win still stay involved in the community and work on the ideas they talked about at the forum.
As we've reported, Mayor Redus filed a lawsuit to postpone the election until 2014. He's claiming he needs to get the city in line with the law and hold mayoral elections in non-presidential election years. This comes after the city's population fell below 50,000. That was one question at Thursday's forum and Redus pointed fingers elsewhere.
"It's up to a judge to determine why the Jefferson County Election Commission didn't tell you, the citizens of the community, why we did not change the election to be 2014, every other municipality has done it, why shouldn't Pine Bluff," Mayor Redus said.
The chairman of the Jefferson County Election Commission has declined to comment on the lawsuit but said the situation is "surprising and confusing for everyone involved."
There is a hearing on the lawsuit next Tuesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court. Challenger Debe Hollingsworth has filed a request to stop the mayor's suit and allow the election to go on as planned.
Here is a list of all the candidates:
PETER F. DANIELS, JR.
ALDERMAN THELMA WALKER
JOHN JAMES, JR.
MAYOR CARL A. REDUS, JR.