"It is curious - curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare." - Mark Twain
The surprise retirement announcement made by longtime Juneau Rep. Bill Hudson late yesterday leaves the Alaska House with a great deficit in terms of experience and character.
He has held a firm grip on his House seat for seven terms and could have held it for as long as he wished. He always has enjoyed great popularity in the community and has been one of the most universally well-liked lawmakers throughout his tenure on the hill. Many younger legislators benefited from the example he set.
His wide support in Juneau crossed all political boundaries.
Hudson's effectiveness in the House of Representatives was enhanced by deep experience, which includes 21 years of Coast Guard service, high office in the Alaska Marine Highway System, and a directorship of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
It is unlikely that any prospective candidate for his vacated seat would come close to matching his credentials.
In his retirement speech, Hudson said that he was stepping aside to allow someone younger to run for the seat. He plans to travel and spend more time with his grandchildren.
While doing the people's business, Hudson unfailingly followed his heart and was not afraid to buck the party line to follow what he believed.
Hudson also has proven to be a man of vision.
His deep concern for the future of Alaska steeled his resolve to put the state's financial footing on firm ground. He was the first to take on the daunting and unpopular task of sounding the warning alarm in regard to the state's looming fiscal crisis.
As founder of the bipartisan Fiscal Policy Caucus, Hudson worked tirelessly as a champion for long-term, broad-based, revenue-generating solutions - solutions that cut against the grain of the position held by the leadership of his own party.
It has been a frustrating session for the entire Legislature but especially so for Hudson. The session has failed to produce a fiscal plan for the future. Hudson can hold his head high in knowing he did all that was humanly possible toward a noble outcome.
He leaves public service having accomplished a great deal - faithfully attending to the interests of his constituents and to the betterment of his beloved state of Alaska. He has remained courageous and unwavering.
We wish citizen Bill and his wife Lucy every happiness in the next chapter of their life.