Common Ground Arkansas, the bipartisan organization founded by Sen. Jim Hendren, I-Gravette, when he left the GOP, announced its board members Thursday (June 3).
Organized now as a 501(c)(4), the group plans to work in three strategic areas:
- Finding and supporting problem solvers loyal to the people in their districts rather than to special interest groups;
- Supporting legislation that addresses the real problems faced by Arkansans;
- Ensuring strong voter power and voter choice
“Polarization and partisan division keep us from focusing on the very real problems that need solving in our state,” Hendren said. “We will work in areas where we can have a strategic impact on our state politics and give a stronger voice to those in the middle as we look toward the 2022 campaign season.”
The board members announced are:
- LeAnne Burch, Monticello; Retired Brigadier General, U.S. Army
- Davy Carter, Jonesboro; Banker and Attorney
- Veronica Gromada, Bentonville; Attorney, Walmart
- Sen. Jim Hendren, Sulphur Springs; President, Hendren Plastics
- Mark Isbell, North Little Rock; Partner, Isbell Farms
- Mayor George McGill, Fort Smith; Mayor, Fort Smith
- Andy McNeill, Russellville; CEO, Denali Water Solutions
- Archie Schaffer III, Fayetteville; Consultant and Retired EVP, Tyson Foods
- Sam Sicard, Fort Smith; President and CEO, First National Bank of Fort Smith
- Nate Steel, Little Rock; Attorney, Steel, Wright, Gray, PLLC
Carter, Burch, McGill and Steel are all former state lawmakers. Carter was the first Republican Speaker of the House in the modern era and the other three legislators were Democrats. Schaffer was chief of staff to Gov. Dale Bumpers, his uncle, when Bumpers served as Arkansas governor.
Hendren will serve as chairman of the board, and Schaffer serves as vice chairman. Board members were selected to represent a wide range of ideological views with a shared commitment toward cooperation and collaboration despite those ideological differences, a press release from the organization said.
“I’ve been deeply involved in politics in Arkansas since the mid-1960s, and I firmly believe that something must be done to curtail the hyper-partisanship that’s destroying our democracy and harming our state,” said Schaffer. “I’ve committed myself to help Common Ground Arkansas be a part of the solution. Our strong, ideologically diverse board will work hard to make compromising and finding common ground the norm once again.”