Bentonville mayor’s race headed for Dec. 4 runoff between Jim Webb and Stephanie Orman

by Paul Gatling ( 1,148 views 

The Bentonville mayor’s race was not decided Tuesday (Nov. 6) and is headed for a runoff election after none of the five candidates received 50% of the vote.

Jim Webb (42.8%), a former Bentonville City Council member, and Stephanie Orman (39.7%), a current City Council member, were the top two vote-getters. They will campaign for votes for an additional four weeks ahead of the runoff election on Dec. 4

Municipal law in Arkansas mandates a runoff if no candidate receives either a majority of the votes cast, or a plurality of 40% of votes cast. If one of the candidates does receive a plurality of 40%, they must get at least 20% more of the votes cast than the second-place candidate to avoid a runoff.

With all 28 precincts reporting, according to the Benton County Election Commission, unofficial final election results looked like this:
• Webb: 5,595 (42.85%)
• Orman: 5,193 (39.77%)
• John Skaggs: 1,777 (13.61%)
• Charlie Turner: 272 (2.08%)
• Terry Shannon: 221 (1.69%)

In a telephone interview from his watch party at Bentonville Butcher & Pint restaurant, Webb, a Bentonville native, said he was “super pumped” about Tuesday’s results and excited about a runoff.

“The next three weeks are going to be a lot of work and I am going to be asking a lot from [my supporters],” he said.

Webb reportedly raised more money than any candidate in the field. On Oct. 31, Orman held a news conference at Orchards Park in Bentonville to address attempts made from out-of-state PACs (Political Action Committees) to influence the election. She said she called attention to the issue after the Republican State Leadership Committee, a PAC originally registered in Washington, D.C. but as recently as September registered in Arkansas, disclosed it spent $41,587 on Webb’s campaign. That was is in addition to the $38,639.10 Webb disclosed putting into his own campaign to date. Orman said that could put the campaign spending at an all-time high for the Bentonville mayor’s race.

“The RSLC is pumping major funding into Bentonville in order to gain control of our local community,” Orman said in a news release. “This outsider group with east coast money lacks local credibility and provides no transparency into who is funding this particular investment and what their agenda is. This and other out-of-state organizations must be stopped and I am calling on local government officials, residents, and community leaders to join me in denouncing the agenda-lead involvement of these organizations.”

Orman, who received the endorsement of the city’s long-time Mayor Bob McCaslin, did not return a phone call late Tuesday seeking comment.

Bentonville voters are selecting a new mayor for the first time since 2006, and will have a new top official for just the third time in nearly 25 years. McCaslin has held the job for the past 12 years but he is not seeking re-election. McCaslin’s predecessor, Terry Coberly, also served 12 years as the city’s mayor.