Arkansas state Sen. Eddie Joe Williams has accepted a presidential appointment to the Southern States Energy Board.
Williams, a former mayor of Cabot and long-time legislature, will serve as a representative of President Donald J. Trump.
As a result of the appointment, Williams will resign from the state Senate.
“When I am officially sworn in to the new position,” Williams said in a release, “it will be necessary for me to resign as state Senator from District 29. That is expected to take place in 30 to 45 days.”
Williams’ seat covers portions of Pulaski, White, Faulkner and Lonoke counties.
“I have mixed feelings about this new chapter in my life,” Williams said. “While I’m excited about making a difference in national energy policy, I’m truly going to miss the people I represent in the Senate. It has been a privilege, on a daily basis, to discuss issues with constituents and interact with them. Serving in the Senate has been a blessing in many ways. I’ve been able to influence public policy, and at the same time I get to meet people on a daily basis, make new friends and stay caught up with old ones,” Williams said.
Williams was first elected in 2010 when his then district extended south into Stuttgart and Arkansas County as well as all of Lonoke and Prairie counties. That was reconfigured to include Cabot, as well as Little Rock Air Force Base and Vilonia along with portions of White County.
“The people have always made me feel so at home, when I go to the Capitol I feel like I’m representing family,” Williams said.
He left the Mayor’s office in Cabot to run for state Senate in 2010 after serving a term. Williams also served three terms as a city Alderman as well.
In the Senate, he serves as chairman of the Committee on State Agencies and Governmental Affairs, he continued his agenda of making government smaller and more efficient, on a statewide level. He serves on the governor’s Transformation Team, whose duty is to reduce the size of state agencies. Williams was the lead sponsor of legislation that initiates cost savings in state agencies and plans for restructuring government departments to make them more efficient.
On a more personal level, one of his legislative goals is to construct a memorial to Gold Star families on the lawn of the state Capitol. Gold Star families have lost a family member who has died while in military service. Williams is a veteran of the Army and the Air Force who lost a cousin in the Vietnam War, Sammy Ray Harrison of Star City.
By joining the Southern States Energy Board Williams will continue working on energy policy, which has been a legislative priority since he was elected to the Senate.
He co-sponsored legislation that creates procedures for regulating carbon dioxide emissions and electricity generating plants powered by fossil fuels.
“At the Southern States Energy Board I’ll have the opportunity to serve the people of 16 states, including Arkansas, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands,” Williams said. “In fact, I can assume that one of my first responsibilities will be to help restore the energy grids on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which were damaged so badly by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Energy policy affects the economy in many areas, but it’s not merely an abstract issue to be debated in a committee room. Energy prices affect people’s lives, especially low-income families for who a flawed energy policy can create tremendous hardship,” Williams continued. “You have to fill your tank with gas, and you have to pay the light bill, so when energy prices go up, their quality of life goes down.”
His tenure on the Board will be at the President’s pleasure.
Williams worked for Union Pacific Railroad for almost 40 years, working his way from laborer to the regional director of transportation, managing daily operations for the eastern division covering Illinois to Louisiana. Born in Sheridan, Williams is married to the former DeLona Rudy, and they have four daughters and 11 grandchildren.