House Representative Jack Connell, the third most-tenured legislator in the Georgia House of Representatives and one of Augusta's most influential state politicians, announced Wednesday he will not seek reelection next year.
His decision to bow out of state politics after 34 years in office was, he said, tinged with sadness and a concern for the future. Instead of seeking an 18th consecutive term, however, he plans to devote more time to his family and his Augusta businesses.
"I'm going to miss my staff. I'm going to miss my office. I'm going to miss the men and women that I have made friends with for so many years - who I have loved to work with and who I have loved as individuals," Mr. Connell said. "We have some wonderful, fine people in the Georgia Capitol, and I'm going to miss every one of them."
Mr. Connell, 82, is the third most senior member of the state house - a status he says he "hates to give up." He has served as Speaker Pro Tem for the past 25 years and chairman of the Augusta Delegation since 1995.
His decision, which has been widely speculated on particularly during the last General Assembly session, was made public in a news release.
But Mr. Connell said he has been considering not running for office the past several elections.
"We've been there for 34 years, and we think it's time for us to move on and do what's normal for a family like mine, for my business, to take time to continue a life without politics," Mr. Connell said. "We feel like we've done a good job and helped the community."
Colleagues say his experience and attention to detail will be missed on the house floor.
"He's been a great asset to the House and Augusta-Richmond County," said House Speaker Tom Murphy, D-Bremen, the longest-serving member of the house. "He's a fine, honorable and honest person. We're going to miss him, and I'm sure Augusta-Richmond County is going miss having his influence up here."
Reach Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215 or email@example.com.