Now Hear This … Georgia House Speaker offers emotional farewell address

Quite a farewell speech by outgoing Georgia House Speaker Glenn Richardson, who attempted suicide, and soon after resigned amid allegations of an affair.

The speech is better listened to than read, but the transcript appears below:

I’m not sure if I can do this. I’m not sure.

I want to thank y’all – all your prayers, letters, notes, calls. I really do. Thank you. You’re my family … my life. I’ve prepared some notes – 82 times for today. I kept changing ‘em, changing ‘em. I’ll probably change ‘em again here in a minute.

I come here with a heavy heart because as I stand here today on this podium I realize this is probably the last time I will ever again have this opportunity. And that makes me sad. I love this House. I love this chamber. I’ve given the best years of my life here since 1996. I’ll miss it and I’ll miss you guys.

Only five years ago we House Republicans had 71 members. Don’t forget it. Don’t forget: 71. One Hundred and thirty-four years we had been in the minority. And you say you can’t get your bill passed now? Those of you who weren’t there then, let me tell you something. Barely half of those 71 members are here today. But we’re at 105 members and since we took the majority we’ve done a lot.

We adopted tort reform and slowed the doctors that were leaving Georgia. We passed a woman’s right to know act. We balanced the state budget under some of the most difficult conditions and will again without raising taxes on Georgians. We transformed DOTand its governance. We streamlined the method for local governments to work, built reservoirs, implemented strong immigration reform. We put in place voter ID laws to ensure the integrity of our election process. We fought to reform (the) property tax system, and we passed the state’s first school voucher bill, and I got to cast the deciding vote. We took steps to broadcast the meetings of this body and our committees on the Internet for the very first time so that Georgians could watch what we did – in open – and they could see the debates that they’d never before seen.

You – you as a House have accomplished much for which to be proud. I’m grateful that you allowed me to be your leader.

Along the way, wherever and whatever we may have failed, I take full responsibility for those failures. All of ‘em. When you leave here today, you leave all those behind you and you leave ‘em on my shoulders as I walk out of here. They’re mine.

I’m going to change my remarks just a little bit …

I, like millions of Americans, have suffered with depression, for a long time in silence. Most people didn’t know. There were good days and there were bad days. Tough days. Some of that was my own creation. I know that I received forgiveness from God because I asked for it. But through it all I held out hope that I was going to put my family back together again. I thought it was going to happen. And when the realization hit me a few weeks ago that it wasn’t, I didn’t think there was a reason to live. And I did not wish to live. That was all it was about. There was no other agenda, other than me deciding that if I wasn’t going to have us together, I didn’t want to be here. I should’ve died but for some reason – for some reason yet unknown to me – Almighty God didn’t let me. And he brought me back. I just thought it had been tough up until that point. This last couple of weeks it’s gotten tougher. But through prayers and friends and family and support, I am getting better, even though I’m very emotional right now. I’m emotional because I know this is the end for me.

As I conclude, I’m going to state the obvious: everything in this life has a beginning and everything has an end. It’s time for this to be my end as representative and Speaker. It’s time for this to be a beginning for a new Speaker to lead you through challenging times. I ask you, embrace your new Speaker. Encourage our new Speaker and follow our new Speaker. As I leave here today I’ll leave this (gavel, holding it in his hand). I’ll hand it over to our new Speaker. And for that new Speaker, I will pray (he) will have the utmost wisdom (and) administer justice fairly and use moderation in all your decisions.

Goodbye, friends. I’ll miss you.

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