Sunday, November 18, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1640 - My last Sketches written as an Alabama Senator

  This is my last Senate Sketches. Wait! Wait! Wait. Don’t be disappointed. Sketches will continue, but Senate Sketches will cease. My tenure in the Alabama Senate ended on November 6, 2018. The new senator for Alabama Senate District 23 is Malika Sanders Fortier. I have written Senate Sketches for 1640 weeks over more than 32 years. That’s too, too long to stop now. Therefore, my weekly writings will be Sketches, not Senate Sketches. I no longer have the right to call it Senate Sketches because I am no longer a member of the Senate.

  I was elected to the Alabama Senate on November 8, 1983. As I recall, Gov. George Corley Wallace called us into Special Session immediately after the election. I had to hit the ground running. I have been running ever since for 35 years. I published the first Senate Sketches on April 29, 1987. I have not missed publishing Senate Sketches even once in nearly 32 years. I can’t miss now. It just will not be Senate Sketches. It will be Sketches.

  These 35 years in the Alabama Senate have been most eventful. I went into the Senate with little influence. Over the years with the help of so many, I acquired a little influence, what some call power. I tried to include those left out. I tried to lift those knocked down. I have tried to help those in need.

  I ran for the United States Congress in 1992. I missed prevailing in that race by a few hundred votes out of more than 75,000 cast. The loss was painful but turned out to be for the better. Two years later, I became Chairman of the Finance and Taxation Education Committee (F&TE), which handles the Alabama Education Budget that grew to be more than six billion dollars annually. I served as chairman for 16 years. I was able to help far more than if I had been in the U.S. Congress. This is my last Senate Sketches but not my last Sketches.

  One of my first acts as Chairman of the Finance and Taxation Education Committee was to help change the formula for providing revenue to schools and school systems. Rural schools and/or small schools were being shortchanged. Our formula change resulted in hundreds of millions of additional dollars going to smaller schools and rural school over the years. It is a change that still helps schools today.

  I did not just depend on actions in the Alabama Senate Chamber to change things. I understood both the possibilities and limitations of the Alabama Legislature. Therefore, I also utilized the Senate position to help people in the community advance grassroots struggles. I worked in various ways with those struggling to lift our communities. I was an active part of many of these community initiatives and struggles. These initiatives and struggles continue to this day, and I will continue working with them beyond my tenure in the Senate.

  I intentionally acted to help educate our communities well beyond the public school arena. I communicated widely. I spoke widely. I wrote extensively. I wrote Senate Sketches each and every week without a miss for 1,640 straight weeks. I do three radio programs each week and read Sketches on several other radio programs. I did other writings such as those for special issues of The Greene County Democrat, Selma’s Bridge Crossing Jubilee, various newspapers, and national issues and publications. I also wrote various editorials and did television and radio editorials. I wrote a novel, Death of a Fat Man, and published Take a Walk in My Shoes, which was a compilation of some of my earlier Sketches. I communicate via Facebook, Twitter, and other electronic media. I believe that all of these efforts have long-term benefits for our communities. I believe these benefits for our communities will continue, which will continue to flow long after my service in the Alabama Senate.

  One of the great but unsung achievements was maintaining the Alabama Senate under diverse Democratic leadership until November 2010. That was no small feat given the political dynamics in Alabama starting in the mid-1980s. It took great effort and skill to maintain diverse leadership of the Alabama Senate during those times. All of this meant we could pass a lot of good legislation. Just as importantly, it also meant we could stop a lot of bad legislation.

  I am thankful to each and every person who helped elect me to the Alabama Senate. I am thankful to all those who helped me in other ways I perceive and understand as well as in ways I neither understand nor perceive. I am also thankful for those who opposed me because they helped me to grow stronger. I am very thankful for the opportunity to serve these 35 years in the Alabama Senate. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue serving in other arenas. I am just so thankful. Therefore, I say to the Most High and to you, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This is my last Senate Sketches but not my last Sketches.

Epilogue:  For me, this goodbye to one stage of life is just hello to another stage of life.

  About the author: Hank Sanders represented District 23 in the Alabama Senate from 1983 to 2018.

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