Pine Bluff mayoral candidate Clarence Davis has spent the past few months campaigning talking about moving the city forward.
"We want people to work together. We want people to look for a better future,"Davis said.
Outside the polling place on Monday, however, Davis and other mayoral candidates were unwittingly caught in a controversy about the past.
"There was a former alderman who was talking about going back to the plantation and turning back the clock," said Election Commissioner Stuart Soffer. "He was using a bullhorn across the street to yell at voters to vote for Obama and a black mayor."
There are currently nine candidates for mayor, including two white candidates.
Soffer, and some Jefferson County elected officials, confronted former alderman Jack Foster, about his statements, saying race shouldn't be the sole factor in urging someone to vote.
Foster was removed from office, convicted of felony charges of attempted extortion in 2004.
"The issue is it's inappropriate to use the color of a person's skin to make a decision, which is what this gentleman was extorting voters to do," Soffer said. "I think it violates the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act."
Soffer, outraged by Foster's demonstration, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's office, acting as a private citizen.
But according to Foster, he has a right to free speech and his opinion.
"Pine Bluff is a majority black city so blacks should rule," Foster said. "For us to elect a white mayor in this town would be going backwards."
Foster pointed out that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued an opinion earlier this year, saying bullhorns did not violate the 100 foot polling place boundary during elections.
And Foster said if a white mayor were to be elected as mayor, African Americans in the city would lose any influence they currently have.
"Blacks have no true power in this town except in the political process. If blacks lose the mayor's seat, we lose a seat at the table of power," Foster said.
And he goes further in his comparisons.
"In essence, it's as if we have been recolonized [if a white mayor is elected]. We've been put back on the plantation," he said. "In other words, if the voters in this community vote to elect a white mayor, you are placing yourself into a apartheid."
Foster, making mention of apartheid several times during KARK's interview with him. The formal definition of apartheid is, "racial segregation -- specifically a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa."
When asked if he thought race was more important than a candidate's qualifications or stance on issues, Foster responded, " When whites had a majority in Pine Bluff government it didn't matter then. Qualification versus race that question never came up in the past. They [whites] want to flip the script. The burden is now placed on black folks of why you think a certain way."
Soffer believes the demonstration is sending the wrong signal in the city.
"Everyone in this community knows that the elections have racial undertones," he said. "It's unfortunate that some people will vote solely on the color of someone's skin. And I would say that even if it was a white man telling voters to vote for Romney and a white mayor. That just isn't right."
All the while, mayoral candidates like Clarence Davis are struggling to get voters to focus on the message they're sending.
"We have got to make it better for this city. We can't let anything throw us off. You gotta look forward and move forward," Davis said.