Yes, it appears that state SEN. JOYCE ELLIOTT has missed some tax payments, a serious offense for a lawmaker, and yes, she erred in accepting an $80,000 job on the public payroll that should never have been offered to a member of the legislature, a job she has now relinquished. And yes, if this were someone else, we might be more disapproving.
But it is not someone else, it is the esteemed Joyce Elliott seeking another term in the Senate, and now running in a district that has been redrawn so that she has lost some of her strongest supporters. Arkansas still needs Joyce Elliott in the legislature. First in the House and now in the Senate, she's been a brave and enlightened advocate of good causes, in education, public health, equality of rights and just about every other area, including fair taxes.
Her opponent in the Democratic primary in District 31 is Rep. Fred Allen, a pleasant sort with a better voting record than some. But that's not what's drawing big contributions to Allen from people who don't live in his district, or even his city. Some of these contributors want to change the education system, to encourage private schools over public, sectarian over non-sectarian. (Elliott, a former teacher, is a champion of the public schools that most Arkansas young people attend.) It's disturbing also that Allen's campaign treasurer is a member of a secretive, business-dominated new agency, the Little Rock Technology Park Authority, which will be spending millions of dollars in ways that are now unclear. Allen himself has confessed to a longing for "tort reform," which would benefit corporate malefactors, and gravely injure the low- and middle-income residents of Allen's district, diluting their right to sue for wrongs done them. Supporting tort reform is worse than anything Elliott has been caught in.
Ever since a native New Yorker was elected president of the student body at the University of Arkansas in the late '90s, people have been saying that WARWICK SABIN will go far in politics. This year, he's taking the first off-campus steps on what may be a long and rising political road, as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for state representative in House District 33. Sabin came to Arkansas after meeting President Bill Clinton at the White House while Sabin was a New York delegate to Boys Nation. Thirty years earlier, Bill Clinton had been an Arkansas delegate to Boys Nation and met President John F. Kennedy.
Now the publisher of the Oxford American magazine, Sabin has been an aide to a congressman, an administrator at a state university, and even a staff member of the Arkansas Times. Bright, honest, popular and progressive, he's a perfect fit for District 33, able to argue liberal positions without offending conservative colleagues.
Sabin's opponent, Mark Robertson, is not an unattractive candidate himself, a landscape architect and planner who seems committed to environmental and conservation initiatives and sustainable practices. Against a different opponent, we might endorse him.