Scott Bennett, 50
Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department, Little Rock
Scott Bennett has been director of the Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department since September 2011. He began working full time in the department’s Planning & Research Division as a civil engineer in 1989 after graduating from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He has held a number of positions within the department, including assistant chief engineer for planning. The department is in the middle a $1.8 billion project that will build a system of four-lane highways connecting all parts of the state. The Interstate 30 Bridge over the Arkansas River is to be replaced under the project, which is being funded by a voter-approved temporary half-cent sales tax.
John Boozman, 65
U.S. Senator, Washington
John Boozman was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. A Republican from northwest Arkansas and an optometrist by profession, he represented the state’s 3rd Congressional District from 2001 to 2011. While in the U.S. House of Representatives, he served as assistant majority whip and sat on the Republican Policy Committee. He was instrumental in establishing the Arkansas World Trade Center, which opened in 2007. Boozman is currently the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry & Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works. After recovering from emergency surgery for an aortic aneurysm in April, Boozman is seeking re-election this year.
William J. Clinton, 69
42nd President of the United States of America
Chappaqua, New York
The nation’s 42nd president remains Arkansas’ most famous son. Clinton’s tenure as governor of Arkansas, 11 years and 11 months total, is the second longest in the state’s history. The former president makes frequent trips to Little Rock to visit friends and to support charitable causes and has helped promote tourism in his home state, especially through the Clinton Presidential Library in downtown Little Rock. The former president also returns to his home state to campaign for friends who are seeking office. He is currently on the campaign trail with his wife, Hillary Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic Party nomination for president. The former Arkansas first lady served for a time as a U.S. senator from New York and as secretary of state.
Tom Cotton, 38,
U.S. Senator, Washington
Tom Cotton represented Arkansas’ 4th Congressional District in Congress for two years before being elected to the U.S. Senate, where he was sworn in on Jan. 3, 2015. He graduated from Dardanelle High School, Harvard University and Harvard Law School. Cotton clerked with the U.S. Court of Appeals and worked for a short time in a private law practice before enlisting in the United States Army as an infantry officer. He spent five years on active duty, and during that time he completed combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where he served with the 101st Airborne Division and the Provincial Reconstruction Team. He serves on the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions & Consumer Credit, Subcommittee on Monetary Policy & Trade, Subcommittee on Middle East & North Africa and Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation & Trade. He and his wife, Anna, had their first child, a boy, in April 2015.
Jonathan Dismang, 36
President Pro Tempore
Jonathan Dismang, R-Beebe, was sworn in as president pro tem of the Arkansas Senate on Jan. 13, 2015, the first day of the 90th General Assembly. He served two years in the state House before being elected to the state Senate in 2010. Dismang represents Senate District 28, which comprises Prairie County and parts of Arkansas, Lonoke, Monroe, White and Woodruff counties. Dismang was one of the architects of the so-called private option, now known as Arkansas Works, which is the state’s Medicaid expansion program, and worked to get it approved by the Legislature in 2013. He also was a key supporter of a series of tax cuts approved by the Legislature in 2015.
Jeremy Gillam, 39
Arkansas House of Representative
State Rep. Jeremy Gillam, R-Judsonia, is serving his third term in the state House of Representatives. He represents District 45, which encompasses part of White County. He became House Speaker of the 89th General Assembly in January 2015, and is just the second Republican to hold that position since Reconstruction. Gillam, a farmer, has served on a number of committees during his tenure, including the House Judiciary Committee, the Agriculture, Forestry & Economic Development Committee and the Arkansas Legislative Council. He was elected to the 2016 Board of Directors of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation. Gillam, who has indicated he plans to run for re-election for House speaker, will oversee the Legislature’s budget session this spring, as well as a special session to make changes to and renew the state’s Medicaid expansion program, known as Arkansas Works.
Asa Hutchinson, 65
Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, was sworn in as the 46th governor of Arkansas in January 2015. At 31, he was appointed by President Reagan as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, where he served from 1982 to 1985. He represented the 3rd District in Congress from 1997 to 2001 and was director of the Drug Enforcement Administration from 2001 to 2003. From 2003 to 2005, he served the Department of Homeland Security as undersecretary for border and transportation security. In 2015, during his first legislative session as governor, he fulfilled a campaign promise by getting the Legislature to reduce the state’s income tax rates by 1 percentage point for people earning between $21,000 and $75,000 a year. Tax cuts estimated to cost the state $31.5 million in fiscal 2016 and $104.8 million in 2017 also were approved. The Legislature also renewed, at Hutchinson’s recommendation, the state’s Medicaid expansion program, originally known as the private option but now called Arkansas Works. The governor plans to call a special session this spring to ask lawmakers to consider a plan for revamping and then renewing the program.
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