Friday, August 14, 2015

TOP STORY >> Williams says job far from finished

Leader staff writer

State Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, the former Cabot mayor, will announce Saturday that he will seek a third term representing Dist. 29, which includes portions of Lonoke, Pulaski, Faulkner and White counties.

Williams, a Republican, said he would continue to put constituent issues first, helping district residents work their way through red tape in state government, often in areas of adoption, child neglect, senior care and “a whole array of issues.”

He said that, at any given time, he has eight or 10 files open.

“If I can help, I’m always standing at the ready,” he said.

“I promise common-sense solutions to issues that face the state of Arkansas,” Williams said.

Consolidation — restructuring state government — continues to be an important issue to him, he said this week.

“Currently there are well over 100 state agencies,” he said.

Williams said he would continue to try to cut waste in state government, which he estimated at “at least 10 percent.”

“We have $5 billion in general revenue that we control, with a potential savings of $500 million,” he said.

He said the state must challenge or circumvent an EPA rule aimed at curbing pollution, which he says could double people’s electric bills.

“We get about 47 percent of our energy from coal,” he said. He wants the General Assembly to write a plan to study the economic impact.

The former Cabot councilman and mayor said he has been consistent in his beliefs and work ethic from the time he was first elected to public office. After serving on the city council, he was elected mayor in 2007 and remained there until he was chosen to represent parts of Faulkner, Lonoke, Pulaski and White counties in the state Senate.

“I will continue to support family values, tax reduction and smaller government,” Williams said, adding that he is always looking for ways to cut taxes while balancing the needs of the state.

R.D. Hopper, a first-term Lonoke County justice of the peace and owner of Sonny’s Auto Salvage in Jacksonville, has announced he would challenge Williams in the March 1 Republican primary.

Williams says he’s not beholden to any special interest group, just the people of his district.

In the most recent session of the legislature, he chaired the Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Senate Constitutional Issues Sub-committee and the Joint Committee on Constitutional Amendments. He also co-chaired the Intermodal Transportation and Commerce Task Force and was vice chairman of Joint Energy.

Williams was appointed to the city’s planning commission and served on the Cabot City Council for three terms before being elected as mayor. He has also served on the board of the Child Advocate Centers of Arkansas.

In 2014, Williams received the American Legion Blue Cap Award and, a year earlier, he received the Distinguished Legislator Award from Balanced Energy Arkansas and the Faces of Arkansas Award from the Arkansas State CASA Association.

He and his wife, the former DeLona Rudy, have four daughters and 10 grandchildren. He said he wants to do his part to make Arkansas the kind of place that is safe for his grandchildren.

Born in Sheridan, he retired after an almost 40-year career with Union Pacific Railroad, where he worked his way up from laborer to regional director of transportation. In that capacity, he managed daily operations for the eastern division, covering Illinois to Louisiana.