LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas state senator said Thursday he’s resigning from office to take a job with the Trump administration on a board focused on energy issues in the South.

President Donald Trump announced he appointed Republican Sen. Eddie Joe Williams as the federal representative to the Southern States Energy Board, a non-profit organization focused on energy issues in 16 southern states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Williams, 63, said he’ll resign from his state Senate seat once he’s officially sworn in to the new position in about 30 to 45 days.

Williams said he’s sad to be leaving the state Senate, but added, “I feel like I can make a difference on a much larger scale.”

Williams, 63, represents a central Arkansas district that includes parts of Faulkner, Lonoke, Pulaski and White counties. He was first elected to the state Senate in 2010 and won re-election last year after fending off a challenge in the Republican primary from a rival who criticized Williams over his past support for the state’s hybrid Medicaid expansion.

Before serving in the state Senate, Williams served as Cabot’s mayor and as a member of its city council.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a past chairman of the board, said he’ll work with party and election officials on scheduling a special election to fill Williams’ seat.

“(Williams) will be an excellent choice as the federal representative for the SSEB, and he will play a key role in supplying energy policy in the future,” Hutchinson said in a statement.

Members of the state’s congressional delegation also praised Williams’ appointment.

“He understands protecting the environment and developing American energy aren’t mutually exclusive goals; in fact, they can support each other,” Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton said in a statement relased by his office. “And with his unique mix of talents and skills, I believe he will be able to turn that vision into a reality.”

Williams said he expected one of his first jobs on the board will be working with the panel on restoring the energy grids to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, which were severely damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.


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