April 26: Juneau Empire on the changing face of the Legislature:

Posted: Monday, May 01, 2000

So far seven legislators -- four senators and three representatives -- have decided enough is enough and won't return for another session. Combined, they represent nearly 100 years of legislative experience and know-how.

Those years led to appointments and powerful positions, including speaker of the House, Senate president and chairmen and chairwomen of probably every committee possible. All told, it will leave quite a void next year.

We're sure the political jockeying already is starting -- who will take over what, who is going to run to replace those departing. Let's leave that for later. What we'd like to do instead is say a simple thanks to those who served their constituents as citizen-legislators and decided, for whatever reason, that it was time for something else.

Sens. Al Adams of Kotzebue, Jerry Mackie of Craig, Sean Parnell of Anchorage and Mike Miller of North Pole, and Reps. Gary Davis of Soldotna, Ben Grussendorf of Sitka and Gail Phillips of Homer already have announced they're leaving. Others may follow.

To them we say thanks. Being a legislator is not an easy job. It requires leaving home and spending months working on often mundane subjects. But these people chose to run and serve, and serve they did.

While we didn't always agree with them, we acknowledge their dedication not only to their constituents but to the state as a whole. These individuals, from both sides of the aisle, won some, lost some and probably compromised on more than they wanted.

We have always believed in the citizen-legislator concept, where ordinary residents take time off to serve their fellow Alaskans. And we admire the fact these lawmakers decided against making it a lifelong job. That's not the original intent of our founding fathers.

And so while they leave us to pursue other interests -- possibly higher political office -- we wish them well and thank them for their service to our state.

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