On Wednesday, the United States Senate approved the appointment of former Senator Kyle McCarter as the new Ambassador to Kenya.
McCarter comes to a familiar territory with a promise to support the handshake and engage the LGBT community despite his strong views against gay marriages.
Born on June 27, 1962, the Illinois politician is married to Victoria and live in Lebanon, Illinois, with their two children Zach and Austin.
Their daughter Amber died in 2006 at the age of 21 from what was described as a heroin overdose.
The fluent Swahili-speaking McCarter and his wife Victoria, lived and worked in Kenya for Each1Feed1, a Christian ministry that gives care and education for orphans and widows, in 1987-1988 and built Faith Medical Clinic.
The charitable organisation to date has its offices in Mukothima, Tharaka Nithi County, where Carter is currently its international director and Victoria is the director.
McCarter said despite his personal views he is ready to help Kenya take on its challenges and promised to meet with the members of the LGBT community.
“I will use my experiences in business, public service, and philanthropy to build on the already strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Kenya,” he told the committee.
He said he would use his expertise to demonstrate the goodwill and generosity of the American people to the republic of Kenya.
Asked about the Building Bridges Initiative and the handshake between Uhuru and opposition leader Raila Odinga, McCarter said ethnic divisions have been the biggest issue in the country.
He added that he was optimistic that through such partnership the country can overcome challenges.
“These things don’t get better overnight. Devolution may help reduce tensions and I am hopeful that new leadership will emerge at local levels through the initiative,” he said.
McCarter was appointed in February 2009 as Illinois State senator after Republican State Senator Frank Watson resigned, shortly after suffering a stroke.
After the Senate redistricting, parts of the old 51st, 54th, and 58th districts were combined to create the new 54th Senate District.
Incumbent Republican, John O Jones, was also drawn into the 54th district but failed to adequately meet the petition filing requirements and did not appear on the ballot.
After Jones ruled out an independent bid, McCarter ran successfully for the 54th district.
He chose not to seek reelection in 2018 where he was succeeded in the Illinois Senate by Jason Plummer.