LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – For the first time since becoming governor-elect, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is sharing her vision and goals for Arkansas.
The interview comes less than a week before she’s sworn in as the first woman to ever lead the Natural State, and while she’s fully aware of the historical significance, Sanders is also laser focused on what she wants to accomplish over the next four years.
Her victory in November’s mid-term election was a historical moment that the governor-elect said she is still processing.
“You kind of pinch yourself and say are we really here getting this opportunity and have the chance to that we do to do transformational things for the state of Arkansas?” Sanders said of the experience.
Leading a state is a challenging task, but it is one she’s been preparing for, thanks in part to her father being the former governor.
“I had about as close of a front row seat as you can possibly imagine to everything that he did and learned a lot from that,” Sanders said of her time watching former Gov. Mike Huckabee lead Arkansas.
Sanders rose to national prominence as part of another administration but even the notoriety of being the White House Press Secretary for former Pres. Donald Trump could not keep her out of the Natural State.
“I loved my job for the two-and-a-half years I had it but was very excited to come back and be home in Arkansas,” she said.
With days before she takes over the reins of the state, her attention is now focused on making 15 cabinet appointments, regardless of where they come from.
“I’m extremely proud of the fact that we’ve been able to recruit some of the top talent from around the country who want to be in Arkansas, because they see the same opportunity I do,” she explained.
Her priorities for the state are already in motion, with education being at the top of the list.
“I’ve made no secret that that’s the biggest priority,” Sanders said. “I have going into this first legislative session laid out an aggressive plan during the campaign, the AR LEARNS Initiative, and I think it has the ability to bring about generational change for the state of Arkansas.”
Sanders added that public safety also a top priority, saying that “out-of-control crime” is “ravaging” cities in Arkansas, something she called “unacceptable.”
To combat this, the governor-elect said expanding jail capacity is a must, along with tougher sentencing laws and supporting law enforcement.
“We cannot allow the left to demonize our law enforcement officers,” Sanders said. “We have to make sure that they have the tools and resources and the training that they need to be successful at their job.”
The governor-elect noted that with the help of Attorney General-elect Tim Griffin and lawmakers, she is confident progress can and will be made.
“I think that there is going to be a great collaboration and cohesion as move into this session to some important things done,” Sanders said.
She’s also adamant about phasing out the state sales tax. It is a process that will take time, but one she says must happen.
“We are no longer going to be able to compete with Texas and Tennessee and Florida if we don’t start to phase out that income tax and make sure we are rewarding hard working Arkansans,” she explained of her plan.
For Sanders, rewarding Arkansans is not a dream but rather a goal, one she’s wants everyone to see and feel.
‘I want the Arkansas that my kids grow up in to be the same one that I did, the same one that I love, where it doesn’t matter where you start, you get to decide where you will finish,” she said.
Sanders is set to be sworn into office on Jan. 10.