Saturday, April 21, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1610: I am not retiring; I am just not running again

  “What are you going to do now that you are retired?” I get some version of this question all the time. Therefore, I decided to write about this concern. I am not retired. I am not retiring.

  I announced in February that I would not run again. I had already qualified to run for a tenth term. I did not withdraw my candidacy before qualifying ended on February 9, 2018. In fact, I only withdrew my candidacy in early March. But I knew in my heart that it was time.

  To retire, I would have to resign from office. I am not resigning. I do not intend to retire. I will serve the remainder of my term. I will be in the Alabama Senate until November 5, 2018, when my successor is elected. That means I have half a year remaining as an Alabama State Senator.

  I did not want to run for the Alabama Senate in the first place. I was “tricked” into running 36 years ago by J.L. Chestnut, Jr. He really wanted to be in the Senate. He ran unsuccessfully for the twice and an Alabama House seat once. He would have made a grand senator. I will not tell the story in this Sketches of how he “tricked” me into running. I have told it many times on various occasions.

  In 2010, I announced that I would not run again. The reactions from friends and supporters were overpowering. I was overwhelmed. I thought I must be wrong to retire if people were reacting so strongly and determinedly. I changed my mind. I ran again. In fact, I ran twice more. I am not retiring. I am just not running again.

  “What will you do with all that time?” some ask. They are surprised when I tell them that I will just cut my days from 14-16 work hours per day to 10-12 work hours per day. Some say, “That is not much of a cutback.” I say, “it's 25 percent.” To me, four fewer hours a day is a lot, and I look forward to even that much of a cutback.

  The Senate is supposed to be a part-time job. Therefore, it pays very little. It was set up that way by the 1901 Alabama Constitution. It was designed to ensure that only the wealthy could serve in the Alabama Legislature. However, it was always a full-time job and then some. In fact, it is an overtime job. I am always on call. I am always on the move. To paraphrase another saying, a senator’s work is never done.

  I have a law practice. I have been practicing law since 1971, some forty-seven years. That is how I made a living all these years. The Senate never provided sufficient pay to make a living. I am so glad that I had an independent income to live off of all these years.

  When the 2018 Legislative Session was drawing to a close, I really did not feel anything special. I am currently the longest-serving senator in the Alabama Senate. Senator Billy Beasley took a special interest in my leaving after serving 35 years and acted to honor me. I am thankful. I am not retiring.

  The senators gave me a standing ovation on the floor. I appreciated the honor, but I did not feel anything special. But I was thankful. There was a reception for me and the other 11 senators who are not running again. I appreciated the reception. I did not feel anything special, but I am thankful.

  On what was expected to be the last day of the 2018 Legislative Session, my wife, Faya Rose Toure, and my daughter, Malika Sanders Fortier, both insisted on coming to experience my “last day.” I did not see anything special about my last legislative session as I had another seven months in office. I just wanted to get it over with so I could get back to other work. Still, I was thankful.

  I gave everything I had during these past thirty-five years. I don’t have any more to give in legislative sessions. I did not know this until the last session commenced. I will continue to give until this term ends on November 5, 2018. Then I will continue giving in other ways.

  Some of those closest to me keep searching for signs that I may have second thoughts about not running again. There are no such signs. There are no second thoughts, I have served my time.

  I will continue the practice of law. I will continue my community work. I will continue with my various political responsibilities. I will continue to write Sketches. I will finally finish the books I am writing for my grandchildren. When I started writing these books in 2006, I had three grandchildren by birth. Now I have nine. Therefore, I have a lot of writing to do. Also, I love reading. I read a lot of books by reading a little several times a day. It is amazing how much one can read by reading a little at every opportunity. I will read even more. I am not retiring; I am just not running again.

Epilogue – Sometimes we just know. We can’t explain it, but we know it. That’s the way it is with not running again for the Alabama Senate. It’s just time, and I know it.

  About the author: Hank Sanders represents Senate District 23 in the Alabama Legislature.

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