Sen. Tim Kelly is retiring from the Legislature after 22 years.
Kelly, an Anchorage Republican, announced his departure on the Senate floor Saturday. ``After nearly a quarter of a century in the Legislature, I'm ready for the challenge of a new frontier,'' he said.
He said he was looking forward to spending time with his wife and children on the activities Alaskans enjoy most: ``Camping, fishing, playing hockey and criticizing the Legislature.''
His colleagues in the Senate passed a citation praising Kelly as ``one of the Legislature's premier leaders.''
Kelly, who has served as Senate president and has chaired the Rules Committee four times, was commended by his colleagues as an advocate for the University of Alaska, the military, campaign finance reform and oil transportation safety measures following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.
Kelly was elected to the House in 1976, then the Senate in 1978, where he served five terms, with a two-year absence from 1990 to 1992. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1990.
Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles chimed in with praise for Kelly during a news conference Saturday following adjournment of a special legislative session.
He's been a ``strong leader and certainly a worth partisan opponent,'' Knowles said. One of his key attributes, Knowles said, was an ability to get things done.
``He didn't really lend himself to long speeches on issues. He just liked to get things done, so that will be missed.''
Kelly is one of five senators retiring this year. Also leaving are Republicans Sean Parnell of Anchorage, Mike Miller of North Pole and Jerry Mackie of Craig and Democrat Al Adams of Kotzebue.
``I don't know if there's a time since statehood that five senior members of the body have left willingly,'' said Senate President Drue Pearce, an Anchorage Republican.
Former Republican Rep. Terry Martin has already filed to run for Kelly's Senate seat. Also, Marco Pignalberi, who served one term in the House during the 1980s and is currently an aide to Anchorage Republican Rep. John Cowdery, said he is considering a run for the seat.
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