You may know already, or have guessed from the yards signs sprouting throughout the area — I’m not seeking re-election to the state House of Representatives. After 10 years, 12 legislative sessions (two of those being special sessions) and the ups and downs of countless issues, votes and constituent calls, it’s time to “retire.” I’d always been fascinated by policymaking, and have appreciated the chance to scratch that particular itch. It’s frequently been fun and fascinating, sometimes frustrating, occasionally quite stressful, and never, ever boring. Being a member of the House is a rather unique experience!
Starting out, I set the standard that you, as my constituents, should hear about my votes and decisions on policy, and not much else. In other words, I didn’t want to be yet another elected pontificator, constantly intruding on your peace of mind. As Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet, “Just the facts, ma’am!” I think I’ve largely met that goal, though by no means perfectly.
This legislative column has been my prime means to that end (with thanks to the Newton Citizen for carrying the column all these years). I’d written newspaper columns some years before I was elected, so this was a pretty natural avenue for me to keep you informed. To some extent, I’ve felt like a reporter with very privileged access to the process: hence the descriptions of floor debates and votes on bills, and the sometimes goofy nuggets I’ve unearthed while trolling through newly introduced legislation. And then, responsibility! – my thanks to the individual who, early on, emailed to ask how I’d voted on a bill, since my description didn’t make clear which side I’d come down on …
Thus my style for the column was pretty well set during my first session. I’ve stuck with it, in part because I enjoyed it, but also because the most consistent comment I’ve received over the years has been appreciation for the discipline of delivering consistently during every session. After my first couple of years, I learned that the House Communications Office produced a weekly summary template that I could easily have used for the column – but by then I’d realized the column was my signature, so I certainly wasn’t going to quit!
Given all the action of a legislative session, weekly columns were inevitably drawn to the details. Now the “fur flying” immediacy of all that is behind me, and I’m ready to give you that insider’s perspective from a broader point of view. Over the next 11 weeks, I invite you to join me in exploring things that didn’t fit in an “in session” column, much of which will continue to impact your life long after my term is concluded.
And though I’m still technically “Representative Holt,” I can see the burden of being a responsible public figure receding in my rearview mirror. I intend to have some fun, tell a few stories and maybe even get mad a couple times! So whether you are a political junkie, or simply want to know more about what goes on in Atlanta, stay tuned. Next week we’ll examine our first question: “What on earth is a legislator?”
Doug Holt, R-Social Circle, represents District 112 in the state House of Representatives. He is not seeking re-election.