Arkansas Senate

August 11, 2022

Hendren Well, here we are again. You know, when Ann texted me and said, would you like to say a word, I initially said no. Because I hate to do things that draw attention and try to be very under the radar and low key about things. But then I reconsidered. Because, the fact is, I began to think, there’s a couple of people I, if nothing else, I want to say thank you to. Because it’s been a long time.

I was– I served in my first General Assembly 27 years ago down on the other end. And a lot of things have changed since then, some for the better, some would argue maybe not so much. But the fact is, it’s been an honor to serve in the legislature with, with you all. But I do want to just say, as all of you know, when you come to the end, you think about what made it possible. And the fact is, we’ve got some new ones coming in, we’ve got some who have been here a long time as well. But all of us know you can’t do it without your family, without a spouse and kids that are, that are understanding of that. Especially when you live 230 miles away and especially when you decide to be in the National Guard and run a business at the same time. It takes a special family to allow you to have the freedom to do those things. So I’m thankful for Tammy and for Daniel and for David and for Nick and for Molly. Because the fact is they– I couldn’t have done it without them.

I also want to say, you know, my dad– we don’t always agree on everything, but we agree on a few things. And one thing he told me when I came to the Senate was you will not find a better staff of people to work with than you will in the Senate. And he is so right about that. And again, they’re all just incredible people who love this institution, and it’s been such a joy to get to know them, not just as a staff, but as friends and as people to work together with. Obviously, I want to thank the voters of Northwest Arkansas for letting me do this for a long time, and now I can go back and enjoy my grandkids.

There’s, you know, all–  I have so many close friends here and some that I’ve served with for a long time. But I just want to recognize one. And that is somebody who is responsible for me being here, who called me out of retirement and said, You have to come be part of this again. And that’s because she was with me back on the House end. And that’s my seatmate, Senator Cecile Bledsoe, who I have not had a better friend and colleague in the Senate. And it is so special that you can have those kind of relationships. And I hope all of you have that kind of seatmate and that kind of experience your time here in the legislature.

And I want to thank you all for putting up with me, for giving me the opportunity to serve in some positions of leadership. I know sometimes I can be a little hard to get along with, especially when Dismang or Flippo are doing stupid stuff and I and I say things. But I appreciate, I appreciate you all. We come from different backgrounds with different experiences and different worldviews, and I appreciate the opportunity to serve and your patience with me.

And then I’ll just close with this. Because, you know, as I leave here, I think, what did I do? Why did I come down here and spend 16 years, you know, away from my family? But the fact is, the reason is because of them. I was thinking about, as I was coming down this morning, my daughter was born when I was serving in the House of Representatives, and now she’s going to have her first child in November. And the fact is– and that’s number 11 for me. And the fact is, the reason we do this is not for ourselves. And I hope it’s not to be a senator. It’s for them. It’s for our kids and our grandkids to be able to come back and enjoy the amazing state that we have. I had the opportunity to live in lots of states, from Florida to Alaska to California to New Mexico. I saw nowhere– there was never a doubt I was coming back to Arkansas because of what we have here.

And I’m challenging you that are staying here to continue the work. There’s so many people counting on you. I mean, there are kids without families that are counting on you. Jonathan talked to me after our meeting yesterday. There’s people who don’t have homes that are counting on you. Those are problems that you guys can– have– and must solve. There’s our kids and grandkids who want a job and an opportunity to work here in Arkansas and have good schools and quality education. There’s all the people who work for the state and the schools that depend on how we make decisions here. They’re all counting on you.

And as I leave here, I’m just gonna tell you, I’m counting on you, too. Because I have no doubt– and I said this when I began the session as the Pro Tem– we have some great people. We have some incredibly good people in this Senate. Despite the challenges that we face, there are good people trying to do good things. And I’m just imploring you to be leaders, not politicians. To solve those problems that matter. And to continue to make Arkansas the greatest state. Again, thank you for letting me stay here and serve with you. Thank you for putting up with my sometimes hard to get, hard to get along nature. But it has been an honor to serve in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Thank you.