Tuesday, December 07, 2010

TOP STORY >> Williams readies for new challenge

Leader staff writer

With less than a month left as mayor of Cabot, Eddie Joe Williams says he now understands the term “lame duck.”

He hasn’t started any projects in the past 90 days that couldn’t be finished by the end of December, but he still takes care of day-to-day city business. And last week while in Washington, where state senators got together to discuss issues across the nation that impact all states, he met with Rep. Marion Berry to talk about the north interchange that he has been working to bring about for a decade.

The mayor left for the nation’s capital early last week and the conference ran through Saturday, but at 4 p.m. Friday, he was driving back from the airport in Little Rock.

State Sen. Bobby Glover, whose seat Williams is taking over in January, told him once to always take care of his constituents first, Williams said. And though the conference was chock full of educational topics such as what to do about the backlog of unprocessed rape kits, and how to implement health-care reform that will cost states hundreds of millions, he had committed to welcoming guests at the Christmas- lighting ceremony behind city hall and he intended to be there, he said. Nancy Cohea and Alderman Ann Gilliam had worked hard getting ready for the celebration and they are his constituents, Williams said.

He said he is a little disappointed that the new National Guard armory won’t be finished before he leaves office.

“It would have been nice to have a ribbon cutting,” he said.

But the estimated completion date on that multimillion-dollar project is April.

“It was one of the single biggest projects in my administration with a $1 million-a-year economic impact,” he said.

Williams also has been working with Bill Cypert, who takes over as mayor on Jan. 1.

Cypert has signed off on his budget for 2011, so that is ready for the council to pass, Williams said.
Asked if he regrets giving up his job as mayor, Williams said he might if he was retiring.

“I think I have something really exciting to look forward to,” he said.

The natural-gas industry is now huge in Arkansas, he said. And regulating it to protect state residents will require legislation that he wants to be a part of.

So while he’s still dealing with the issues that Cypert will soon face like traffic and drainage, he’s also committed to attending a fish fry in Hazen and a breakfast in Keo.

“I think it’s important that people get to know who I am and that I intend to work for them,” the new state senator said. “Your constituents come first.”