Friday, November 05, 2010

TOP STORY > >More legislators are Republicans

By joan mccoy
Leader staff writer

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams took his first steps as a new legislator by attending a retreat at Petit Jean for new lawmakers on Friday.

Williams became the new Republican state senator for Dist. 28 when he defeated Democrat Lenville Evans, 14,014 to 7,565, on Tuesday.

The sessions are designed, to bring the new people up to speed on all the issues.

Williams said he now knows more about the state lottery, education and opinions from the attorney general.

Education, the reason most residents moved to Cabot, is always a big issue. Williams said he found it interesting that students can now go online to find scholarships that are best suited to their needs.

Instead of reviewing all available scholarships, students answer several questions and the program sug gests the scholarships that will work for them.

Asked what Cabot residents can expect their new senator to do for them, Williams answered with an example from Biscoe in Prairie County. The night before the election, Williams said he attended a city council meeting there. He was the only person in the audience.

The mayor and five council members spent much of the meeting talking about the need for a light in the park to keep people from driving off the dock into the Cache River. When they finally turned their attention to him, they asked what he would do for them if elected.

Biscoe is an incorporated town with a population in 2000 of 476 and they are often forgotten, he said.

Williams replaces Sen. Bobby Glover (D-Carlisle), who is term-limited. In the past four years Glover has helped Cabot when he could, especially with money for the National Guard armory that is now under construction.

Williams said he will work for Cabot the same way Glover did, but he won’t forget places like Biscoe.

“It’s my job to level the playing field,” he said.

Asked how he will spend his last two months as mayor, Williams said he will work with the new mayor to make sure the transition is smooth. Three months ago, he and his staff started a file of information that the new mayor will need.

Former mayor Stubby Stumbaugh and Bill Cypert are in a runoff Nov. 23.

Williams said he will hire a new director of operations. Karen Davis left in the summer for a position as assistant to the Cabot school superintendent. Williams said he will take applications for the job and officially hire the person, but the choice will be the new mayor’s.

Rep. Jonathan Dismang, a Republican from Beebe, became the new state senator for Dist. 29 Tuesday night, easily winning over Sandra Prater with a 12,321 to 7,565 vote.

Dismang replaces Sen. John Paul Capps, a Democrat from Searcy who served in the Arkansas House of Rep-resentatives from 1963 to 1997 and in the Senate from 2003 to the present.

Ten years ago, Dist. 29 was carved out of the districts held for many years by then-Sen. Mike Beebe and Sen. Bill Gwatney, both Democrats. It takes in most of White County and a sliver of Faulkner County to link White County with north Pulaski County, Little Rock Air Force Base and Jacksonville.

Sixty percent of the voters come from White County, but Dismang said Friday that he doesn’t think his White County roots won him the election.

Pointing out that he lost outside White County by only a few votes, Dismang said voters want conservative representation and that is what he will give.

Dismang, financial officer for the Whitwell and Ryles real estate investment company in North Little Rock, didn’t attend the retreat for new senators at Petit Jean this week. He was catching up on work after the election.

He said that even though he believed the campaign was going well, there was never a time until the votes were counted that he knew he would win.

“We were really humbled by the support,” he said.

Asked how his experience as a state representative will help him as senator, Dismang said it has taught him what the state needs. It needs more businesses and to that end he will support legislation to attract it: lower business tax and the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing. He also supports eliminating the capital gains tax and what’s left of the grocery tax.

Dismang said the first bill he sponsored was intended stop gas companies from declaring eminent domain and taking land for their pipelines. When it failed, a senior representative told him, “Don’t worry about it. It’s just politics.”

Dismang said his pledge to the people who voted him into office is that he will never see their concerns as “just politics.”

He also said he wants to hear from his constituents. Call him at 501-882-0449.