Michael Morrison, a second-year student at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, was sworn in as Justice of the Peace for Crawford County District 4 on Friday morning.
A native of Van Buren, Ark., and a graduate of Van Buren High School, Morrison defeated incumbent Lloyd Cole in March. The socially-distanced swearing in ceremony was administered by Justice Candice Settle.
Justices of the Peace make up each county in Arkansas's chief governing body, known as the quorum court. Justices of the Peace approve budgets, hire staff, and set policy.
“As a Justice of the Peace, you are essentially responsible for two main areas, policy and power of the purse,” Morrison said. “As I lived in Crawford County and Van Buren, I thought about what would be a great way to get involved in county government and help out. The best way I thought I could use my talents, so to speak, was Justice of the Peace.”
Morrison said he is ready to get to work, share his ideas, and bring positive economic changes to Van Buren and Crawford County. His committees will include personnel, budget, economic development, technology and facilities, citizens development, and health and welfare.
“I really want to help the county bring in a fresh set of eyes,” Morrison said. “I would like to build relationships with city mayors and other elected officials so I can have a more detailed background and understand where elected officials are coming from. I would like to work on projects between the city and the county that would better the lives of the people of Crawford County.”
Last summer, Morrison’s Clinton School field service work partnered him with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture. He assisted in the marketing and communication efforts of local companies looking to expand to international markets. Additionally, he was part of the team that looks at alternate strategies to connect companies with the benefits offered by the Southern United States Trade Association during the pandemic.
During the 2019-20 academic year, Morrison and a group of first-year Clinton School students worked with the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub to address how to grow and retain membership and improve member experiences within the organization.
For his final Capstone project, Morrison is working on a documentary about lobbying and its impact in Arkansas.
“Some of my classes at the Clinton School, especially communications with Dr. Richards and some of the elements from Program Planning with Dr. Bavon have prepared me as I go into working with county government. To be able to listen to constituents and the people of Crawford County, and when it comes to policy and reading reports, I now have a better understanding.”
The Clinton School Speaker Series not only enhances the education of Clinton School students, but also provides a venue for the public to engage in intellectual discussions on the issues of the day.