Newspaper

State Rep. Ed Henry’s decision not to seek re-election may have been a surprise to many people in his district, but his reasons for stepping away from elected office ring with the kind of sincerity that’s needed from anyone who delves into politics.

After weighing some business opportunities and a chance to work in the federal government under an appointee of President Donald Trump, the most important consideration Henry cited in his decision is whether he could remain effective as a representative or eventually become part of the problem in state government.

It boils down to this: many people who have entered politics since the Reagan era have touted term limits as a means of preventing lawmakers from becoming entrenched with special interests or complacent toward their constituents. Some officeholders have chosen to back away after serving a couple of terms, but they are few in number.

Henry, who has only been in office since 2010, said he believed he could have held the seat for years to come. Nonetheless, he feared becoming part of the problem in Montgomery and chose to bow out when the next election arrives in 2018.

Term limits have been debated thoroughly without much of a consensus on what’s best for people and government. No doubt, some politicians become locked into trappings of lobbyists and the warmth of power. Others embrace their elected positions and are recognized for serving as effective lawmakers who serve their districts, states or nation well.

Henry’s decision can be appreciated for the honesty of looking ahead and removing himself from the temptation of becoming another worn out part of the scenery in Montgomery. The Hartselle lawmaker, who represents a portion of Cullman County, has served with enthusiasm in his years, but stepping aside was a decision he reached after much consideration.

Whether others continue to serve for long years or bow out after a few terms is a decision left to individual lawmakers and voters. We hope that all who serve will stop to evaluate their own effectiveness and what is best for the people they serve.

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