New West Memphis mayor focusing on police department and unity

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. -- The new mayor-elect of West Memphis knows he ran a close race steeped in racial tensions. He spoke about unifying the city and moving it forward Wednesday.

Fellow council members congratulated Marco McClendon at city hall after his win with 54 percent of the vote in the runoff election Tuesday.

He said he wants to focus on addressing crime, first and foremost.

The current police chief is stepping down and assistant chief Eddie West will take over.

He also wants to change enforcement style to be more like what he remembers from when he was younger.

“We had officers we knew in community and would have if there’s an issue you could go to them before some of these shootings and gang fights may happen," he said.

His supporters said the emphasis on community-style policing is part of why they voted for him.

“Some people call this a bad town because so much shooting. I think he’ll bring a positive situation to help our young people, keep them off the street," Sheila Faggett said.

But not everyone saw McClendon as the right future leader.

“Disappointment," one woman said. "The problem is when there’s a runoff, people do not get out and vote.”

She said her son was supporting McClendon’s opponent, fellow council member Wayne Croom.

McClendon won with about 54 percent of the vote, even though less than 5,000 people cast ballots.

McClendon admitted race played a part, but he had a message for all his future constituents.

“It’s going to be good not just for black and white but it’s going to be good for everyone, once everyone starts to see that they’ll see this is an administration for the people," he said. "I hope to win them over. I hope they give me an opportunity because I am the mayor now and once they look in the next two to three years, they’ll be supporting me in the next election."

McClendon will be sworn in January 1.