- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 30, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas lawmaker is leaving his elected position this week to work as a top aide to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, the governor’s office announced Tuesday.

State Rep. Bill Gossage, a Republican who has represented three counties in west Arkansas since 2013, has been hired as deputy chief of staff for external operations. Gossage, 59, said he’s resigning as a legislator effective Wednesday and plans to start his new job Thursday. He will be paid $95,000 a year.

“I’ve known the governor for 25 years. We’ve been friends, and this is something I feel comfortable doing,” Gossage told The Associated Press. “I feel like I can still advocate for the folks back home while serving the bigger purpose of working for the people of Arkansas.”

Hutchinson, who’s also a Republican, announced earlier this year that he was splitting the deputy chief of staff position into two jobs after then-deputy Jon Gilmore stepped down to work in the private sector. In July, Hutchinson hired Ateca Williams as his deputy chief of staff for internal operations.

“Bill has been a longtime friend and adviser, and I have no doubt that his experience in education and his service in the legislature will provide my office with wise counsel and guidance as we approach the 2017 general session,” Hutchinson said about Gossage in a statement. “Most importantly, though, Bill shares my vision for our state.”

Gossage, who was looking to be re-elected in November, faced no Democratic opponent. The state Republican Party will be responsible for picking a nominee to replace him in the general election, the governor’s office said.

Hutchinson’s office also announced that current governor’s executive assistant Katie Beck will be the new director of state-federal operations. She will begin in her new role Oct. 3. Hutchinson’s office said a salary has not yet been set for Beck. Alisha Curtis, currently the governor’s director of operations and special operations and the chief of staff’s executive assistant, will replace Beck as executive assistant to the governor.

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Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo


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