Ex-Walmart compliance exec announces Democratic challenge of Republican incumbent Sen. Bart Hester
For the first time, Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, will have a Democratic challenger in a general election.
Ronetta J. Francis of Rogers, a corporate ethics and compliance executive, employment attorney and author, announced her candidacy Wednesday (Oct. 9) to represent Arkansas State Senate District 1. Francis is running in 2020 as a Democrat against Hester. He was first elected to represent District 1 in 2012 and was reelected in 2016. He ran unopposed in the general election both times.
“Senate District 1 is home to the most successful corporation in the history of the world and a world-class museum of American art,” Francis said in a statement. “The world shops with us, we move the nation’s economy, and now we are a national tourist destination. What we have built here is the pride of the Natural State. Arkansas is at the tipping point of major reputational rebranding efforts, and with its exciting and expansive growth, Northwest Arkansas is poised to lead these efforts. We need the right leaders in the room, who not only support and embrace the region’s continued economic growth but also its richly evolving demographics.”
Francis is the founder and CEO of Francis Dynamics Consulting Group in Rogers, which specializes in executive coaching and leadership development. She started the business in 2017. Before that, she spent 10 years working as a corporate ethics and compliance officer for Walmart Inc. She also spent nine years as a senior trial attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Dallas.
Francis said her campaign will focus on the wellbeing of children and families in Arkansas. She will also present ideas for strengthening and improving public health and safety systems.
“Families and communities can’t be strong without access to affordable, excellent healthcare options or secure, healthy food choices,” she said. “We are learning that more and more Arkansans have to choose between their prescription drugs and putting food on the table. This crisis of affordability disproportionately affects children, women, and the elderly — the most vulnerable individuals in our state — and I think that’s wrong.”
An Alabama native, Francis earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Alabama and an M.A. in clinical psychology from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn.
She later obtained her J.D. from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.
Francis and her husband, Earl C. Francis, Jr., have been married for 25 years and have three adult daughters.