Tuesday, November 28, 2017

TOP STORY >> Senate race gets more crowded

Leader staff writer

Ricky Hill, executive vice president of Bank of Ozarks branches in Cabot and Lonoke and a former Cabot School Board member, said he will run as a Republican for the vacant Dist. 29 state Senate seat in the special primary to be held Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Hill will face James Coy in the Republican primary. Coy is also a former Cabot School Board member, although they served at different times.

State Sen. Eddie Joe Williams (R-Cabot) resigned from the seat earlier this month when he was sworn in to the Southern States Energy Board as a full-time representative.

Dist. 29 includes Cabot, parts of northwestern Lonoke County, Vilonia and parts of Faulkner County, parts of northern Pulaski County adjacent to Little Rock Air Force Base and parts of White County.

Hill has been a banker for 17 years, with seven at the Bank of the Ozarks and 10 at First Security Bank. Before becoming a banker, he was general manager of Farmers Co-Op in Cabot, Searcy and Ward for 10 years.

Hill served on the Cabot School Board, one term from 2012 to 2017, where he was president for the past year.

“As a state senator, I will work to bring decency and common sense back to our political process. I will use my experiences to advance Arkansas’ future through improved education, support of our state’s agriculture and investing in the infrastructure needed to spur job growth,” Hill said.

Hill is lifelong Lonoke County resident and a 1986 Cabot High School graduate. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business and a master’s degree in economics from Arkansas State University.

Hill and his wife, Cynthia, have been married for 26 years. They have two children, a son, Grant, who is a 2013 Cabot High School graduate, and a daughter, Julie, a 2017 Cabot High School graduate.

The Hills live on a farm off Sandhill Road, where they raise cattle and horses and grow hay. Cynthia manages their rental properties in Cabot. They have a row crop farm south of Lonoke. The Hills are members of Mount Carmel Baptist Church.

“I am running because I love to work with people and love to give back to my community. I am compassionate about issues pertaining to agriculture, education, the highway system and veterans affairs. We have to take care of current and former military members,” Hill said.

“We’ve got to find a way – the people want – to pay for our highway system improvements. We are falling apart, and we have to get them fixed, because it has an economic impact on the state. Businesses don’t want to come to your area if you have bad roads,” Hill said.

“We’ve got to take care of our military personnel and make sure we do whatever possible to keep the Air Force Base. It has a drastic economic impact on this area. We do a great job with what we have with it, and the base shows great appreciation,” Hill said.

He said his financial understanding and being on the school board will be an asset working with budgets, income and expenses with the state.

Hill said there is a need for more workforce and skills training in high school.

“We are fortunate to have great school districts in Dist. 29, and I believe including these programs will add to the quality education our children are already receiving,” he said.

Hill is a prior board member of Cabot Chamber of Commerce, Lonoke Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, Keep the Faith Foundation and a member of the Cabot Panther Foundation.

He is a member of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council, Cabot Rotary Club, the NRA and Ducks Unlimited.