Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson
announced more choices to head state agencies today, including one of the biggest. He'll make Larry Walther
head of the Department of Finance and Administration.
An Economic Development Department director under Mike Huckabee, Walther is a former phone company executive whose most recent work, which ended in July 2013, was as a member of the board of Export-Import Bank of the United States and director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. He succeeds Richard Weiss
, a veteran of many administrations, who's retiring next week as the state's chief fiscal officer.
Walther's appointment — as opposed to Ted Thomas,
a partisan political consultant who also wanted the job — I think can be taken as a sign that no upheaval is planned at DFA. I expect the veteran staff Weiss assembled will stay in place in the immediate future. The department is viewed as working well, though legislators sometimes don't appreciate the arithmetic it must use in forecasting impact of tax cuts and the like. Thomas ended up with chairmanship of the Public Service Commission. Thomas' tact was on display this week when he told the Democrat-Gazette had asked for DFA and the PSC and it was the governor's choice that he got the PSC post.
Hutchinson also named Jami Cook
to replace Ken Jones
as director of the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards,
which operates the law officer training academy; Sen. Bruce Holland
to head the Livestock and Poultry Commission
(I'd reported this earlier), and Joe Fox
to continue as state forester
The Hutchinson news release:
LITTLE ROCK – Governor-Elect Asa Hutchinson has announced Larry Walther as the new Director of the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA), Jami Cook as the new Director of the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and State Senator Bruce Holland as the new Director of Livestock and Poultry. In addition, the Governor-Elect has announced that he will keep Joe Fox as State Forester at the Arkansas Forestry Commission.
Governor-Elect Hutchinson issued the following statement on Larry Walther:
“I am pleased to announce Larry Walther as the new Director of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration. The breadth of experience Larry has gathered over the course of his career, along with his institutional knowledge of state government have prepared him for this new role, and I have no doubt he will represent our state and this department well.”
Larry Walther was most recently a member of the board of directors for the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank). He was nominated by President Obama on July 21, 2011, confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 1, 2011, and sworn into office on November 14, 2011, for a term expiring on January 20, 2013. Prior to that, Mr. Walther served as Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). Prior to his assignment at USTDA, Mr. Walther served as Director of the Arkansas Department of Economic Development (ADED) under former Governor Mike Huckabee. Previously, Mr. Walther had an extensive career with SBC Communications, now AT&T, concluding his 30-year career as the Vice President for Corporate Services and Chairman of the SBC Foundation. Larry lives in Little Rock. For more on Mr. Walther, see attached.
Governor-Elect Hutchinson issued the following statement on Jami Cook:
“Jami has the knowledge, experience and management capabilities necessary to lead the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training as its new Director. I am confident in her abilities and know she will make Arkansas and our law enforcement community proud.”
Chief Bob Harrison, Chairman of the Commission on Law Enforcement Training and Standards released following statement:
“Jami is presently on the commission, she is bright, she is a professional and she will continue to move law enforcement in the State of Arkansas into the 21st century.”
Jami Cook has been the Arkansas State Police Program Director for the past 10 years. She started her law enforcement career as a Newport Police officer in 1994 and has over 20 years of law enforcement experience. She holds a Senior Law Enforcement Certificate from the Arkansas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training. In 2009, Ms. Cook was appointed as a Commissioner to the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training. Ms. Cook is a graduate of Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She lives in Sheridan.
Governor-Elect Hutchinson issued the following statement on Sen. Bruce Holland:
“Agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry, and a critical staple of our economy. Bruce’s background in animal agriculture and experience in the legislature have prepared him for this new opportunity as the new Director of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission. I am confident in Bruce’s work, and I know he will represent our state and the industry well.”
Senator Bruce Holland has made his living as a full time cattleman since 2005. He was born and raised in south Sebastian County where his family has made their living raising cattle for six generations dating back to the early 1800s. Sen. Holland has served on several boards and committees serving agriculture on county, state, and national levels, including: past President Sebastian County Farm Bureau, Sebastian County Fair Association, Farm Service Agency Farmer Elected Committee (Chairman for Crawford, Scott, and Sebastian Counties), past Vice President of Sebastian County Cattlemen's Association, Director of Farmers Cooperative in Van Buren, and Ag Governance Council for the Land O'Lake's Corporation (one of four producers on a nine member board representing 14 states). Holland was elected to the State Senate in 2010 and has served as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Forestry, and Economic Development Committee. He lives in Greenwood.
Governor-Elect Hutchinson issued the following statement on Joe Fox:
“Joe has done an outstanding job in his current role as State Forester for the Arkansas Forestry Commission. His expertise in this field makes him the ideal choice, and I am pleased to announce that he will continue as State Forester in my administration.”
Joe Fox has held the title of State Forester since May of 2012. Prior to that, Mr. Fox was the Director of Conservation Forestry for the Nature Conservancy in Arkansas from 2000 to 2012. Mr. Fox was the Chairman of the Forestry Commission from 1995 to 96 and President of the Forestry Association from 1990 to 1991. He is a native of Pine Bluff, a graduate of North Carolina State, and he lives in Little Rock.