People and Politics: June 2010
N.Y. veteran. Dean of the Western New York Delegation, Senator Dale Volker, is retiring after 38 years in the Legislature. A lawyer and former police officer, Volker was first elected to the Assembly in 1972, winning the seat held by his father for 22 years. He later won a Senate special election, and became one of the most influential senators in Albany. “Over the past 38 years as an elected official, I have always put the people over politics,” he said. Volker was praised by colleagues on both sides of the aisle for his integrity, hard work and dedication.
Conservative newcomer. Tea Party activist Charles Perry defeated the oldest member of the Texas Legislature in a primary run-off in April. Representative Delwin Jones, 86, had served more some 30 years in the Legislature—from 1965-1973 as a Democrat, and as a Republican from 1989 to now. Jones provoked GOP conservatives by joining with 10 other House Republicans to oust Speaker Tom Craddick last year and help elect Joe Straus speaker. Perry is a political newcomer who was inspired by the Tea Party movement to run. He has no Democratic opposition in the general election. “Anybody who has farmed in West Texas knows that this is like another hailstorm,” Jones says. “You get over it.”
A true friend. Hawaii House Clerk Pat Mau-Shimizu, a 23-year veteran of the Legislature, suffered from diabetes and chronic kidney disease. So when it reached the point she needed a kidney transplant, her donor was the woman who sits next to her on the House floor—Assistant Clerk C.J. Leong. Leong had offered to drive her boss to the medical center for classes about treatment and options and became interested in becoming a donor. Without telling Mau-Shimizu, Leong went through the process of seeing if she was a match. She was. The operations were performed in September, and there have been no complications. Now they are linked not only by their profession, but for life by their kidneys.
Blast from the past. It’s been 40 years since Richard Hollington Jr. served in the Ohio House of Representatives. But he’s back. Hollington, who served from 1967 to 1970, agreed to return on a temporary basis. He is replacing former Representative Matthew Dolan, who left to pursue a county office. House Republican Leader Bill Batchelder talked the 77-year-old Hollington into another, albeit shortened, freshman term—he is sitting in only until the end of the year. “I’m sitting in about the same seat that I sat in 40 years ago,” he said. “It hasn’t changed a bit around here.”
Tax vote fallout. Georgia Senator Preston Smith was stripped of his chairmanship of the powerful Judiciary Committee after he refused to go along with a Republican caucus position in favor of a tax on hospitals that would help fill a $600 million gap in Medicaid funding. Smith voted against the bill, as did Senator Mitch Seabaugh, who resigned his position as whip. The Senate Republican Caucus unanimously elected Senator John Wiles majority whip. Smith, the youngest member of the Senate, announced he will run for attorney general.
A proper sendoff. The Florida House decided to send its term-limited speaker out in style. They wheeled a red Harley Davidson into the chamber for the motorcycle-loving Larry Cretul as “Easy Rider” played on the sound system during a going away ceremony. The bike was just a prop, though. Cretul owns his own Harley. But members did give him a helmet signed by his House colleagues, a special tag that reads SPEAKER, and leather jackets for him and his wife.