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Mayor’s race develops

Preston Lewis made it official last week when he announced he was running for Mayor against Mike Watson, the incumbent, who is also running.

Watson is on his second term and seeking his third.

Lewis, the first-term Alderman, first let it be known via press release late last Tuesday night, then held a campaign kickoff at Lake Willastein on Saturday.

“I had about 40 people there,” Lewis said of the event where he outlined the goals of his campaign.

Watson beat then two-term Mayor Burch Johnson in 2006, and then ran unopposed in 2010 for his second term.

Reflecting on his eight years in office, Watson said public safety was his No. 1 priority when he first ran and is proud of his accomplishments.

“We went from a Department of Public Safety and now have police and fire departments,” Watson, himself a former volunteer firefighter, said. “We’ve continued to make strides,” but, he added, if he had one thing he could have changed, it was the selection of land for the new fire station.

“We might have handled that a little bit differently,” he said.

As for Lewis, he said the Watson’s handling of the third exit as the biggest reason why he was jumping into the race.

“No doubt, it was the Counts Massie situation,” he said. “It became really clear to me that we had really dropped the ball. It has been 672 days since we passed the bonds and we still haven’t done anything yet.”

Lewis also said that Maumelle becoming its own school district and “getting that conversation going” was amongst his biggest accomplishments as Alderman.

“Traffic and our schools are the two biggest things going,” Lewis said.

Both candidates expect a campaign.

“Is it going to be positive,” Lewis said. “I sure as heck hope so.”

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