People and Politics: June 2012 | STATE LEGISLATURES MAGAZINE
JIMMY NAIFEH, THE LONGEST SERVING SPEAKER in Tennessee history, is retiring from the General Assembly after 38 years. Naifeh was first elected to the House in 1974, and served as speaker for 18 years—from 1991 until 2009 when Republicans won control of the Tennessee House. He was honored with the title House speaker emeritus, and has won numerous awards recognizing his leadership, including the prestigious William M. Bulger Award, given by NCSL and the Leaders’ Foundation, in 2006. The award goes to the lawmaker “who has worked to preserve and build public trust in the institution of the state legislature and whose career embodies the highest principles of leadership—integrity, compassion, vision and courage.” Naifeh, 72, said the time had come to “pass the torch to the next generation of leaders.”
AFTER NEARLY 32 YEARS WORKING FOR THE ARKANSAS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, David Ferguson is resigning as director of the Bureau of Legislative Research. “I am very proud of the bureau and its long history of service to the General Assembly,” Ferguson said. He announced his plan to leave at the end of the legislature’s
THEY WOULD BE ONLY THE THIRD COUPLE in Colorado to do it: serve together in the state Capitol. Terry Todd is his wife Nancy Todd’s campaign manager. She is a term-limited member of the House who is running for the Senate. He is taking a run for her House seat in a three-way Democratic primary. Married for 40 years, they are both enthusiastic about serving together. “Marriages that grow together stay together, Terry said. “And we’ve grown together through campaigning and, hopefully, through eventually governing together.” The Todds are Democrats. The other two Colorado lawmaker couples were Republicans. Representative Bob Burford served in the House from 1975 to 1980 and his wife, Ann McGill Gorsuch Burford, was in the House from 1972 to 1980. Ben Lewis Alexander was a senator from 1995 to 1998. His wife, Kay Alexander, served in the House from 1997 to 2002.
JOYCE BIGBEE MAY BE GONE, BUT SHE IS CERTAINLY NOT FORGOTTEN. The former director of the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office retired at the end of 2011, bringing to a close a 33-year career at the agency. “Joyce set the gold standard in Alabama for how to manage a team and operate a state agency,” House Speaker Mike Hubbard said sat the time. Bigbee was “impervious to partisan politics” in her focus to present the facts about the state’s fiscal conditions in good times and bad. In recognition of her contributions, the Legislature recently named a committee room in her honor and held a ceremony and reception to mark the occasion. Bigbee began her career in the Fiscal Office in 1978 and was named director in 1987. She also served as chair of the National Association of Legislative Fiscal Officers.
TED STRICKLAND, FORMER COLORADO SENATE PRESIDENT, lieutenant governor and one of the state’s most revered Republicans, died in March at 79. “This is a tremendous loss for Colorado—he served with distinction,” said former U.S. Senator Hank Brown, Strickland’s running mate in his campaign for governor in 1986. “A lot of people see problems, but Ted also saw solutions.” Strickland was elected to the Colorado House in 1968 and the Senate in 1970, where he was president from 1983 to 1992. He served as president of NCSL from 1987 to 1988. Strickland was lieutenant governor from 1973 to 1975, when then-Governor John Love became the first director of the Office of Energy Policy in the Nixon administration and was succeed by John Vanderhoof. Strickland lost gubernatorial elections in 1978 and 1986. “Ted was a friend of mine before I ran against him, and he was a friend of mine after I ran against him,” said former Governor Roy Romer, his 1986 opponent. “I cared about him because he was a tremendously good human being who always tried to do the right thing.”
FORMER PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE SPEAKER BILL DEWEESE was sentenced to two-and-a-half to five years in prison for his involvement in the so-called Bonusgate political corruption scandal that involved paying bonuses to legislative employees for campaign work. Twenty-five defendants have been implicated in the scandal, including legislators and staffers from both parties. DeWeese and five others have been convicted; 15 have pleaded guilty, two were acquitted and charges were dropped against one. Former Representative Steve Stetler, who became state revenue secretary, is going on trial later this year. DeWeese, the only sitting lawmaker to be convicted, ran unopposed for his seat in the April primary, and is appealing his conviction.
FORMER CALIFORNIA LAWMAKER DAN BOATWRIGHT, who served in the Legislature for 24 years, died in April at 82. He was elected to the Assembly in 1972, where he chaired the Ways and Means Committee, and moved to the Senate in 1980 and became chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was the son of Arkansas sharecroppers, a combat infantryman in the Korean War, mayor of Concord, Calif., and a graduate of the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. His proudest legislative accomplishment was his success in making California the first state in the nation to require protocols in cases of sudden infant death syndrome.