State Sen. George Hooks (D-Americus) announced earlier this week that he will not seek a 17th term in the Georgia legislature. Hooks is the current "Dean of the Senate," and is one of the upper chamber's most influential and respected members.
"With the strong support of my family, my constituents and my colleagues, we have accomplished much,” Hooks said in making the announcement. “I believe the time has come to step aside and perhaps explore other areas of public service. I am humbled to have held the public trust of my friends and neighbors for more than three decades. I will continue to serve actively until my current term expires January 2013."
During his 32-year career, Hooks has served as an Administration Floor Leader for the Governor, and chaired the agenda setting Rules Committee as well as the budget writing Senate Appropriations Committee. During his 10-year chairmanship of Appropriations, Georgia achieved a AAA Bond Rating, the highest in the nation.
Hooks has faced primary and general election opposition four times since first being elected in 1980. He carried his home base by over 70 percent in each of the 32 times he was on the ballot.
Long recognized for his legislative skills, Hooks was the chief designer of Georgia's current state flag, and passed it into law by a single vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, thus ending decades of controversy and political fighting for the state.
Under his leadership, Hooks has guided billions of dollars into this area of the state for much needed economic development, education and transportation projects. Among those are the four-laning of U.S. Highway 19 from Atlanta to Tallahassee; the state purchase and rebuilding of rail lines from the Alabama state line to Savannah; placed the SAM Short railroad in operation; construction of the golf course and conference center at Lake Blackshear; location of the Youth Development Campus in Sumter County; creation of hundreds of additional new state jobs to the area; obtain hundreds of millions of dollars for new construction for Georgia Southwestern State University and South Georgia Technical College; and currently the ranking member of the OneGeorgia Authority.
Currently, Hooks' 14th senate district, composed of 12 rural west Georgia counties, is the largest in the state. The district includes Dooly, Macon, Marion, Peach, Schley, Stewart, Sumter, Talbot, Taylor, Upson and Webster counties and portions of Crawford County. Hooks has represented as many as 20 different counties during his extensive legislative career.
When asked what’s next, Hooks said he has served for most of his adult life under the Gold Dome, and he now thinks it’s time for a “few other opportunities.”
“I’m not mad at anybody, not threatened by reelection; it’s just time for some changes in my life,” he said.
Hooks also said he plans to write a book at some point.