My AJC colleague James Salzer is chasing down the details on the decision by President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, to step down as leader of the state Senate – who intends to replace him for instance.
Below is the letter Williams sent to his Senate colleagues.
Williams was one of the GOP senators who engineered the 2010 revolt against Casey Cagle that successfully stripped the lieutenant governor of much of his authority over the chamber.
But Williams was constantly frustrated by continued leaks about machinations within the Republican caucus. Note the swipe at the very end:
It is a very difficult decision for one to give up a position of political power. Often it takes a lost election or scandalous event for one to part with the notoriety of a higher position. While I’ve been affected by neither loss nor scandal, I can say that conceding a place of leadership over such a fine group of men and women is not easy.
I believe that leadership positions major chairmanships should be rotated or term-limited so that we may all gain from the talents of many and allow other members the opportunity to serve in higher positions. History proves that corruption can occur when one is too closely connected to lobbyists and has forgotten that the people, not lobbying groups, are who we represent.
I have had many opportunities to take on lobbyists and special interest groups when their requests were not in the best interest of the people, and I can tell you it helps one to be a better leader if he or she is not overly concerned about re-election. Additionally, members that have consolidated powers as leaders or major chairmen over time face the temptation of exploiting their power for both themselves and their corporate contributors.
While serving as President Pro-Tempore (PPT), I concentrated on working with the democrats to build consensus. This year we passed several major pieces of legislation with unanimous votes proving, unlike Washington, that we can work across party lines to achieve good results.
My decision not to seek re-election for the PPT position was prayerfully considered. In addition to my beliefs about service limits in leadership, Stephanie and I have three children, and I need and want to spend more time with them. The movie “Courageous” has helped me refocus my position on fatherhood as the higher priority. I am spending time in Atlanta that should be spent at home or in my district working with constituents.
I would like to say how grateful I am for the privilege of serving you as PPT. It has been a wonderful experience for me. Over the last two years, the struggle over who would govern the Senate has been stressful, but liberty almost always requires a struggle. I have fought for giving the Senate the liberty to govern itself. This has never been a personal battle. It is what I believe the Constitution declares, and we have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution. Now the liberty to govern is ours to protect or surrender.
The PPT is elected by all members of the Senate. These are some qualifications that I feel should be considered when electing the next PPT:
1. He or she should be humble, upright, trustworthy and of good character.
2. He or she should be free of any conflicts of interest and must not use the office as a means of promoting his or her livelihood. If this is not the case, the PPT will embarrass the Senate at some point. What is done in secret will be shouted from the mountaintop. Nothing remains hidden in this business. Look to members that are not overly burdened by their private jobs. This position takes an immense amount of time. In the future, we should look at making the PPT job a salaried position at a “living” wage.
3. He or she should be faithful to his or her spouse and family. The PPT in many ways is a reflection of the Senate as a whole. If we elect a leader with wavering morals, we can all be put to shame. We’ve all seen what happens in our own General Assembly when leaders cannot control themselves.
4. He or she needs to be intelligent, patient and capable of building a consensus.
It is my hope that we can find a consensus candidate without having a fight over the position. Ideally, one should not seek the job. The job should seek the person. I served in this position because members asked me to serve, and I was never opposed. It would be my hope that we could come together as a team and choose from our caucus a person that has the above listed qualities to be our next PPT without a campaign splitting the caucus. Our current Governor is a great example of one having the qualities it takes to lead at this level.
The PPT and other leadership positions are about serving others. We should remember the wisdom of Jesus who said, “Whosoever is chief among you let him be your servant.” We should look for someone with a servant’s heart that cannot be tainted by the seduction of power.
I will continue to serve the remainder of my term as PPT. When the new leaders are elected or re-elected, I will support the team. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting back to the nitty gritty of perfecting legislation, which is why I came to the Senate in the first place. If we work together we really can continue to make this state great.
Sincerely and friendly,
I am sending this notice to the media so that the long term member of the caucus that feels a need to leak this letter to the media, can redirect his time to concentrate on other virtues.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider