What the hell is going on in Bryant?
She's about 5'4" with blonde-streaked hair and, on some days, bottle-tan skin. She supports conceal and carry rights, touts Christianity on Facebook, makes public appearances in polyester blend and employs phrases like "gotcha" when presiding over city council meetings. Once she juggled a dual management role, overseeing both her daughter's swim team and her husband's business. She spends her days composing termination letters for directors of city departments and peppering city hall with GOP figureheads. Dollar Store buzz is she's got her sights on the mansion. No, not the Hurricane Lake mansion.
This is not Sarah Palin, circa 1999. It's Jill Dabbs, circa 2012. She's the first female mayor of Bryant — land of strip malls, shiny housing developments, suburban amenities and recently, three-ring public meetings.
Dabbs, 39, has been a neon billboard from the beginning. While campaigning in late 2010, she sued Saline County to change her name so the non-partisan ballot would read "Republican" Jill Dabbs. She lost the suit, won the election, and garnered a stern scolding from the state Ethics Commission for misreporting campaign funds. (Somehow, fish fry admission fees never made it to the official donation record.)
In January 2011, her first month in office, she replaced the chief of police (an 18-year force veteran) with Mark Kizer, the husband of her friend and colleague, City Clerk Heather Kizer. Then she gave herself and Clerk Kizer pay raises, without the approval of the City Council. (The money was quickly returned, after another Ethics Commission wrist-slap.) Shayne King, the city's human resources director of 12 years, questioned the raises before the Commission caught wind. King was fired for her efforts and is now suing the mayor and the city for $333,104 in wrongful discharge.
King is one of 47 full-time city employees who have been fired or resigned since Dabbs took office. Last month, an alderman introduced a recall petition to have the mayor removed.