Fierce lobbying continues for a major speaking role for Ralph Brodie in the major commemorative Little Rock Crisis event Sept. 25 at Central High School. Brodie was Central's student council president in 1957-58 and has long argued that white classmates and other white actors haven't been given proper consideration for positive acts during the crisis. City Director Joan Adcock, another Central High student of the era with similar views, has been pressing Brodie's case. Sensitive stuff. Those who integrated Central High don't recall a great outpouring of support from white classmates.
Also interesting in the realm of speakers is the still-pending question of whether President Bush will attend. Most think he won't — not with his Supreme Court justices dismantling court rulings that led to Central's desegregation — but will send an emissary, perhaps Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a daughter of the South and the highest-ranking black in his administration.
Word filters out from a county department heads' meeting Monday that County Judge Buddy Villines sounded like a man who might not seek re-election next year. He didn't say that in so many words, but he remarked that he wasn't sure he had another campaign in him. Villines has been treated recently for an irregular heart rhythm and the job has been pressure-laden of late, between county financial difficulties and Villines' involvement in a fight over release of county e-mails generated by the former county comptroller, Ron Quillin, who faces public embezzlement charges.
We talked with Villines later. He said he indeed was considering not seeking re-election. He said he hoped treatment for his heart condition would improve how he felt, but he said his health had to come first and the job had been wearing, never mind the demands of an election campaign. He said he hadn't reached a final decision, but was leaning toward retirement.
Villines, 60, is serving his eighth two-year term. We wrote recently that State Auditor Jim Wood had said he'd run for county judge if Villines did not seek re-election. With Villines out there'd likely be a number of candidates. Possibles include Treasurer Debra Buckner and former JP and state Rep. Sandra Prater of Jacksonville.
Judicial rumor mill
Several judicial seats are up for election in 2008 and lawyers are buzzing about some potential contests. Circuit Judge John Langston is retiring. District Judge Herb Wright has already declared for that seat. Alice Lightle, recently appointed to a district judgeship by Gov. Mike Beebe, is considering the race, as is Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter. Judge Collins Kilgore, who is seeking re-election, will face a rare challenge to an incumbent judge from Greg Almand of Little Rock.