A measure to change the governance for the City of Hope apparently fell short Tuesday night by an unofficial count of 358-377, a difference of 19 votes.

A measure to change the governance for the City of Hope apparently fell short Tuesday night by an unofficial count of 358-377, a difference of 19 votes.
As Friday’s print edition of the Hope Star was preparing for press Thursday, the Hempstead County Election Commission is still sorting through 11 provisional ballots and 1 International ballot as well as a handful of questions regarding voter eligibility, which may or may not disqualify an estimated two or three votes.
But, with a 19-vote difference, apparently the additional provisional ballots and International ballot will not change the final result, so Hope will retain its City Manager/Board of Directors form of government for the foreseeable future.
In a prepared statement to the Hope Star issued early Wednesday morning, Mayor Steve Montgomery said, "Even though the election is not official at this time and we will still have to wait for the official tally I would like to thank the citizens of Hope for coming out to vote for this very important election. There is work to be done whatever the outcome may be. Hope can only be successful as a whole community and not a divided one. I believe both sides of the issue want to see Hope prosper and succeed just as all Hope city employees and the Hope city board members do."
Also, issuing a public statement, Vice Mayor and longtime City Board of Director Don Still said, “I hope we can all come together and realize that we all have the same opportunities to move Hope forward. We just need to work together.”
A larger than expected turnout of approximately 735 Hope resident voters underscored the significance of the election; with 358 voting for the measure, but 377 voting against it, although the provisional ballots are still outstanding.
Hope’s Fair Park Coliseum was active on Tuesday and into Tuesday evening as Hope resident voters showed up in droves. Voting was still continuing as the press deadline for Wednesday's print edition of the Hope Star was approaching.
At 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, approximately 386 voters had been reported voting at the coliseum at that point with three hours until polls close.
At approximately 8:02 p.m. Hempstead County Clerk Karen Smith announced the unofficial results as 358, “For” and 377, “Against.”
Early voting prior to Tuesday had seen 202 participate, and there were 17 known absentee ballots cast.  In the early voting, only 73 voted “For,” while 128 voted “Against.”
In the 17 absentee ballots, however, 11 voted “For,” while 6 voted “Against.”
No breakdown of voting by the seven Hope city wards was available Thursday afternoon as the Hope Star was preparing for press. A total of seven voting machines were set up at the Fair Park Coliseum on Tuesday as well as tables representing each city ward for voting. Tables included two or three poll workers.
A simple ballot proposition of “For” or “Against” was presented to Hope resident voters as follows:
"FOR the proposition to organize the City of Hope, Arkansas under the Mayor-Council form of government, “ or "AGAINST the proposition to organize the City of Hope, Arkansas under the Mayor-Council form of government."
It was the only item on the ballot and displayed on the machines Tuesday.
Although voters in Hope apparently declined the change, there will still be the matter of three seats on the City’s Board of Directors up for re-election in November, which will include Ward 1, currently held by Mark Ross; Ward 6 currently held by Don Still, and Ward 7, currently held by Steve Montgomery.
Montgomery also presently serves as the Mayor of Hope, selected by the Hope Board of Directors themselves and not elected by voters, while a hired and contracted city manager, currently Catherine Cook, runs the daily operations of the City of Hope.
The other current Hope City Board of Directors are Ward 2 Kiffinea Talley, Ward 3 Reginald Easter, Ward 4 Don Hall, and Ward 5 Trevor Coffee. None of them are up for re-election in this cycle.