I’m not retiring, I’m just not running

Published 5:04 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2018

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. I am not retiring. I am just not running again.
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 State Senate until November 5, 2018, when my successor is elected. That means I have half a year remaining as an Alabama State Senator. I am not retiring. I am just not running again.
I did not want to run for the Alabama State Senate in the first place. I was “tricked” into running thirty-six years ago by J.L. Chestnut, Jr. He really wanted to be in the State Senate. He ran unsuccessfully for the State Senate twice and the State House 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. I am not retiring. I am just not running again.
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 cut back.” I say, “its 25 percent.” To me, four fewer hours a day is a lot, and I look forward to even that much of a cut back. I am not retiring. I am just not running again.
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 am not retiring. I am just not running again.
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 all these years. I am not retiring. I am just not running again.
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 State 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. I am just not running again.
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 eleven senators who are not running again. I appreciated the reception. I did not feel anything special, but I am thankful. I am not retiring. I am just not running again.
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 am not retiring.