Longtime Little Rock Housing Authority chairman jumps into Ward I race seat formerly held by the late Erma Hendrix

Longtime Little Rock Housing Authority chairman jumps into Ward I race seat formerly held by the late Erma Hendrix

Local banker Virgil Miller chosen by City Board of Directors to serve out term through end of 2022

BCN Staff – Jan. 23, 2022 — Competition for the Ward I on the Little Rock Board of Directors is heating up this winter with the entry of Little Rock Housing Authority Chairman Kenyon K. Lowe Sr. in the upcoming race in November.

Lowe officially announced his candidacy for the Ward 1 post today (Jan. 23) after his appearance on BCN Headlines a week ago. During that taping on KABF FM, he shared he was considering jumping in the race that is now only 10 months away.

Virgil Miller, a local banker, was chosen by the city’s Board of Directors on Oct. 13 to represent Ward 1 for the remainder of the current term of the late Erma Hendrix. The board first began accepting applications to fill the vacant position on the 10-person board about two weeks after the passing of the Hendrix on Sept. 8.

Miller was among eight Ward 1 candidates interviewed at a regular city board meeting for the position on Oct. 12. The board subsequently voted in a special called meeting the next day to seat Miller to serve out Hendrix’s term. 

Hendrix first served on the city’s Board of Directors from November 1993 to December 1994 and was serving her fourth term after being reelected in 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018. Miller will serve the remainder of the current term, which expires Dec. 31, 2022, and will be eligible for re-election to the position. Miller has already said publicly that he would run for the seat again when it comes up for election on Nov. 8.

A veteran civic and community volunteer, the City Board also appointed Miller to Little Rock Airport Commission in 2006, where he served as chairman for several years. Miller has also served on several local civic, nonprofit, and city government boards over the past three decades.

A longtime banking executive and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) director with the former Metropolitan National Bank, Miller transitioned to a similar executive position with Arvest in 2013 after the privately held Bentonville banking group purchased the smaller Little Rock bank. He is 68.

Lowe is the four time and current chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Little Rock Housing Authority, doing business as the Metropolitan Housing Alliance. He also serves as board director for the Central Arkansas Housing Corp., the nonprofit corporation created by MHA to develop, finance, and build multi-family and single-family residential housing in the city of Little Rock and the Central Arkansas area.

If elected as to the Ward I post, Lowe said the key issues he would focus on include crime and public safety, housing, city governance and economic development “with input from the citizens of Ward 1 in developing an agenda for responsible elective leadership.”

Besides Lowe and Miller, there is speculation that other candidates are planning to file for the city’s westernmost district whose boundaries have changed slightly following the citywide redistricting that occurs every decade following the decennial census. In early December, the City Board of Directors approved a new map for the city’s seven wards after new 2020 Census data showed that Little Rock now has 202,591 residents, the first time in state history that an Arkansas city has surpassed the 200K mark. 

Under the Little Rock’s Council-Manager form of government each city resident is represented by one of seven directors elected from within a particular ward. In addition, each resident is represented by the sitting mayor and three directors elected at-large who represent the entire city.

Besides the Ward I seat now held by Miller, the city’s other “ward” directors include Ken Richardson (Ward 2), Kathy Webb (Ward 3), Capi Peck (Ward 4), Vice Mayor Lance Hines (Ward 5), Doris Wright (Ward 6) and B.J. Wyrick (Ward 7). The city’s at-large directors are Dr. Dean Kumpuris (Position 8), Antwan Phillips (Position 9), and Joan Adcock (Position 10). 

Meanwhile, Loretta Hendrix, daughter of the late Little Rock Ward 1 City Director Erma Hendrix, announced earlier this week that said she plans to run for mayor of Little Rock in Little Rock, taking on incumbent Mayor Frank Scott Jr., and three other announced candidates. In September, the younger Hendrix had privately asked the city board to appoint her to finish out her mother’s term in Ward I, but the board selected Miller.

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