- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 8, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - In a surprise announcement Tuesday, the mayor of Arkansas’ largest city said he would not seek a fourth term in office, citing a serious illness in his family.

Mark Stodola has served as Little Rock’s mayor since 2007 and says he plans to return to the private sector once his term ends.

“A very recent, serious medical diagnosis involving one of my immediate family members has caused me to take stock of the future and make a decision that is best for my family at this time,” he said in a letter to residents of the city of about 200,000 people. “In light of this new development, I have decided to cap my time as your mayor at the end of this term.”

Stodola served as Pulaski County’s lead prosecutor during the height of gang activity in the 1990s. Last summer, Stodola announced a new initiative aimed at reducing violence in the city following a shooting that injured more than two dozen people at a Little Rock nightclub.

Stodola also championed the city’s campaign called “Love, Little Rock,” in which the city said it would not pursue Amazon’s proposed second headquarters.

Stodola cited redevelopment along Little Rock’s Main Street, including the Technology Park, and the $70 million revamp of the Robinson Center as among the city’s top accomplishments during his tenure.

“I am proud of this city and what we as a community have helped shape,” he said. “I am confident in a bright future.”

State Rep. Warwick Sabin and banker Frank Scott Jr. have both announced plans to run for mayor this November.

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