From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
Today I am announcing that I do not intend to run for re-election when my current term is expired at the end of this year.
It has been a tremendous honor and a privilege to serve the people of my district, and I have enjoyed working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make Arkansas a better place to live, work and learn.
There isn’t a single day I walk into the Senate chamber that I don’t think back and appreciate the men and women who came before me. Their legacy is a constant reminder of what it means to be a member of this body.
Because my father was a senator, I first walked onto the floor of the Arkansas Senate when I was eight years old.
Immediately, I felt a sense of awe for the institution and its elected leaders. To this day, I still carry that sense of awe for the legislature and how well it serves the people of Arkansas.
Serving the citizens of District 24 has been a lifelong dream realized. My parents raised me with the understanding that we need to serve and give back to our community.
As a young man, I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to see public service in action, up close and personal, as they say.
I worked my first campaign when I was nine, and the first vote I ever cast was in a race for the Arkansas State Senate race – for my father.
I’ll never forget wandering the halls of the Capitol while my father was working. At an early age I witnessed first-hand what effective government can accomplish for our citizens and our communities.
I sincerely hope that my work here the last 13 years has had a positive impact on the lives of the men and women who sent me here.
My decision to leave the legislature at the end of this year was not one I made hastily. From my time as mayor of West Memphis through my days in the legislature, I was always determined to be a builder.
And for over 12 years, I’ve tried to do just that. That’s why I have consistently supported highway programs and economic development in all its facets, from tax incentives to job training and vocational education.
Some of my proudest achievements were cooperative efforts I never could have accomplished on my own, such as securing block grants for local communities the Delta.
I especially want to thank the many people who helped prevent the closing of the old bridge across the River into Memphis. Can you imagine what would have happened if the I-55 bridge was closed when they discovered the crack in the I-40 bridge, and it had to close? The disruption to traffic across the mid-South region would have been catastrophic.
I fear that negotiation and compromise to affect positive change is becoming a thing of the past.
I’m concerned about the recent trends in Arkansas, which is following the style of Washington D.C. politics. Partisanship is supreme, at the expense of the common good.
My sincere hope is that we bring back some old-fashioned values in our public discourse, and with that in mind I want to recognize two men who inspired me along every step of my path.
My father, Bill Ingram, served in the Senate from 1963 until 1981. In his footsteps came my older brother, Kent, who served from 1981 through 1990.
Every time I cast a vote in the legislature, I tried to make them proud.
With my remaining time in office, I’ll continue working to make the Delta a better place to work, learn and live. I will work to create opportunities for the next generation.
None of us is irreplaceable or indispensable. My hope is that I am replaced by someone who is forward-thinking and energetic, who brings a fresh perspective to the legislature while holding fast to the eternal values that make this the greatest country on earth.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.