State of Arkansas
Tom KennedyTom Kennedy saw the law as crime and punishment for most of his career.
During the tumultuous 1999 legislative session, the ex-prosecutor saw lawmaking from the breach.
Lead sponsor of the Jonesboro-spurred juvenile justice bill and floor manager of Arkansas' sweeping deregulation of the electric utility industry, the 39-year-old is serving his second term in the state Senate.
He served four years as prosecuting attorney from the Fifth Judicial District.
"I think most of us growing up looked at the law from a criminal justice standpoint," he says. "As the prosecuting attorney, I realized there were some changes needed from a judicial standpoint. That generated my interest in public service."
Kennedy grew up in Danville and worked four years in the trust department of First National Bank of Russellville before running for prosecuting attorney.
Fresh from the criminal courts, Kennedy was the only freshman appointed to the Joint Budget Committee and landed on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee in his freshman year.
He says utility deregulation proved to be "the most debated legislative issue in recent memory.
He credits trust for his showcase role in two of the four hot-button issues of 1999.
"You quickly develop a reputation for honesty and integrity," he says.
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