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State Sen. Joyner's conviction key to her success

State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, spoke in broad terms as she accepted induction into the Hillsborough County Women's Hall of Fame Wednesday.

But she could have easily tied her comments to the controversy surrounding her latest stand in Tallahassee.

Joyner shared the honors with two posthumous inductees, Nancy Ford and Eleanor "Ella" McWilliams Chamberlain. The Hillsborough County's Commission on the Status of Women made the selections.

Joyner told the lunchtime audience at the Tampa Convention Center that her parents instilled conviction in her at an early age.

"You have to stand up for what's right even if you're standing alone," Joyner said. "Only history will reflect if any man or woman made the right decision."

The points she made mirror a lifetime of service, but anyone keeping up with the news knew the statements could have applied to the clash she endured with Republicans and Democrats last week.

Joyner tried to kill a bill set to overhaul Hillsborough's Civil Service Board, a bill that seemingly enjoyed support from every elected official in the county.

She stood alone.

State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, used a procedural move to put the bill back in play and it passed both houses. Joyner, however, expressed no regrets about her bold move.

She reiterated Wednesday that her opposition should not have come as a surprise given that she told everyone at a legislative delegation meeting in December that she would do everything in her power to kill the bill.

She insists that the same threats of favoritism that led to the creation of the Civil Service Board in 1951 exist today.

Joyner said she doesn't believe the current elected officials, who complain about the board's strict hiring, promotions and discipline requirements, will engage in unfair practices.

But she does believe it opens the door for successors to take advantage of the system.

Still, she holds no grudges.

In fact, Joyner used her time behind the lectern to compliment Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank, a harsh critic of her attempt to kill the bill.

It's an admirable moment for Joyner, the county's first female black attorney. In a political world where go-along to get-along seems to be the norm, she refused to back down.

I like that.

Interestingly, the other two honorees exhibited similar conviction. Ford, the county's first female banking executive, at the Bank of Tampa, ardently fought for the Equal Rights Amendment. She also founded the Athena Society.

Chamberlain fought for suffrage and also worked for "mothers' pensions," an early form of Social Security for widows seeking help to support children.

All three of these women stood in the face of opposition when it was most difficult. An actress who portrayed Chamberlain at the luncheon concluded her brief performance by saying, "Our work is not done."

And that work will never get done if women like Joyner, Ford and Chamberlain aren't willing to take a stand.

That's all I'm saying.

State Sen. Joyner's conviction key to her success 05/07/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 8, 2014 9:53am]
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