Early and absentee voting showed Pine Bluff Ward 1 City Council candidate Joni Alexander, a Democrat, in the lead on Tuesday night. Before all was said and done, she appeared to easily defeat Rev. Jesse Turner, a Republican who ran against her.
Complete but unofficial results were as follows:
Alexander: 2,440, or 87.21 percent
Turner: 358, or 12.79 percent
Alexander, a political newcomer who Turner called a “novice” throughout the campaign, was victorious in a three-way Democratic primary in May. Three weeks later, she beat Thelma Walker, incumbent and long-time council member. Turner had no opposition during the primary election.
Alexander collected 1,274 votes from the early and absentee voting and another 1,245 from the polls Tuesday. Turner got 183 votes during early and absentee voting and another 165 on election day.
“It’s been a long run but it’s all worth it at this moment,” Alexander said after seeing the early voting results. “The people screamed for change and they got it.”
Reminded that she would not only be the only female on the council but also its youngest member, Alexander said, “My age doesn’t define me. Neither does my gender. What defines me is my character and my professionalism.”
A former assistant to former Mayor Debe Hollingsworth, Alexander said one of the first things she wants to do is try and educate citizens and get them more involved in city government.
“We need to see what the people want and how we can help them to achieve it,” she said, explaining that she wants to hear from the people not only in the First Ward but from throughout the city.
Recalling Turner’s name for her, Alexander replied with one sentence.
“I’m a novice no more,” she said.