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Governor Allain leaves positive legacy
by By Ken Strachan Columnist
Dec 05, 2013 | 75 views | 0 0 comments | 107 107 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When the news came Monday that Mississippi's 58th Governor Bill Allain died at the age of 85 in Jackson at St. Dominic Hospital, I thought about the first time I met him, which was at the Black Hawk political rally here in Carroll County.

That rural setting of old fashioned politics was the perfect venue for him, as he came from the generation of handshakes and personal contact. In the late eighties when he was not running for political office, he returned to the rally here in Carroll County, and he left me with the impression that he was true about being connected with the citizens of rural Mississippi.

Allain served this state as attorney general for four years before being elected governor. In this position, he has been described as a crusader and an effective AG. He was most noted as AG when he sued to keep legislators from serving on state agency boards and commissions. Allain's actions were based on the premise that the practice violated the state Constitution's separation of powers clause. The Supreme Court ruled in Allain's favor. He also fought as AG for the prevention of a utility rate increase.

The road to the governor's office was not an easy one. After a tough primary, there was a funded campaign with accusations in the general election on his personal life. These accusations, which were the focus of heavy media attention, were strongly denied by Allain. It is worth noting that none of the accusations were ever substantiated. The voters sided with Allain on election day, and he carried seventy-four of the state's eighty-two counties.

I remember the last meeting I had with Allain several years ago when he was still practicing law. He had no animosity or any grudges against those who spread the rumors. He let his faith help him to not have any ill feelings about the campaign of 1983.

During Allain's term as governor he made government more inclusive by hiring numerous women and blacks. In his second year, he appointed the first black justice to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

He chose to not seek a second term in 1987 when he was the first governor in modern times that could have succeeded himself after the ban was lifted the previous year.

After his gubernatorial term ended in January 1988, Allain practiced law and spent the holidays helping to feed the needy in soup kitchens.

Former Governor Allain left a record of fighting for the common person and promoting social justice. He lived a life of being guided by his faith, held no ill feelings toward his opposition and served people who were less fortunate. That is a legacy worth remembering. Rest in peace Governor.

Ken Strachan is a former mayor of North Carrollton and serves as Carroll County coroner.

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