Judge Jo Hart announced Monday her candidacy for the Arkansas Supreme Court

Court of Appeals Judge Jo Hart announced Monday her candidacy for the Arkansas Supreme Court. Judge Hart is currently serving her fourteenth year as an appellate judge on the Arkansas Court of Appeals.

Court of Appeals Judge Jo Hart

 “With the help of many friends from every corner of the state, today I turned in to the Secretary of State more than 15,000 signatures to place my name on the ballot for the May 22, 2012 election. Gathering these petitions is consistent with my belief in the importance of having a strong grassroots candidacy,” she said.

She remarked that the petition process had been both difficult and rewarding. “One day I signed up nearly 650 voters at a gun show in Conway. When I shared with them that I had retired as a Full Bird Colonel from the Army Reserve JAG CORPS, they were delighted to help me get on the ballot,” she said.

“This process gave me the opportunity to listen to people from different walks of life in towns large and small all across the state. I met many interesting and wonderful people, and I thank them all for giving me their time and their signatures to place me on the ballot. I listened to their opinions about their judiciary and their government. I will continue listening to them throughout this campaign,” she said.

Judge Hart believes her effort to secure a ballot position through petition will help call attention to how judges are elected in this state. She noted that the 2010 elections for the Arkansas Supreme Court involved campaign spending at never before seen levels in Arkansas judicial races, with the amount exceeding $2 million dollars. Significantly, the petition process allows a candidate to make the ballot without raising the funds to pay a filing fee.

“We are facing a critical time in our state when it comes to electing justices to the Supreme Court. My concern is that overspending in Arkansas judicial races may erode the public’s confidence in the impartiality and integrity of our judges,” said Judge Hart.

“I entered into this race by using ballot petitions because I wanted to tell the voters of Arkansas that there is an alternative to the toxic, highly financed judicial elections that negatively affect the public trust. I don’t want Arkansas to be like other states, where citizens perceive that justice is for sale,” she said.

Judge Hart lives in Mountain View with her husband Brook of 38 years. The May 22, 2012 election will fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court due to the retirement of Justice Jim Gunter, who announced his intention to retire last year.