I have had the privilege of serving the people of Southeast Georgia in public office for 30 years, 22 of which have been in the United States Congress. I have met many wonderful people, cast some tough votes, and made some difficult decisions. It has been an honor, a challenge, a great responsibility, and I have enjoyed it immensely. For this I thank the Lord, my family, staff, supporters, constituents, and friends.
This job requires me to wear many hats and be in many places. In Washington, D.C., my staff and I have enjoyed seeing those of you who made the trip and said “Hey!” Planning tours and booking White House visits, hosting school groups of kids eager to see the places in their textbooks come to life — these are the rewards of representing such a great region in Congress.
Back at home, from the coastal beaches to the Vidalia onion fields, the military bases to the Okefenokee Swamp, I have enjoyed my visits to the 41 Southeast Georgia counties that have been a part of Georgia’s First Congressional District during my time in office.
I have always appreciated the tangible ways my staff and I can aid those who have business with our federal government. We have worked through thousands of VA claims, Social Security issues, passport emergencies, and all sorts of things from a goat in the post office to a nuclear bomb off the shores of Tybee Island.
In all of those tasks, I have not forgotten my role as a legislator. We have been able to move legislation of great importance to Georgia and the nation. From the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, the pond building program for our farmers, the Sidney Lanier Bridge, expanding access to Cumberland Island National Seashore, the fifth runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport and the Southeast Poultry Lab in Athens to better training, equipment, and facilities for our troops, expanding E-Verify, welfare reform and making Congress more efficient, we made a difference across a number of fronts.
At home, we sent the best and brightest to the military academies, attended rosebud plantings at Fort Stewart for soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice, opened four VA clinics, bolstered the research and education at colleges and universities all across Georgia, helped communities adversely impacted by shifts in our military’s footprint, and expedited assistance for areas ravaged by wildfires and floods.
Through it all, we have stuck to the principles on which I launched my first campaign: limited government, personal responsibility, the right to life, and an unabiding belief in the American Dream. I know those are Georgia’s values, and I hope they remain that way.
This month, I will be succeeded by Rep.-elect Buddy Carter and I promise to be around for Mr. Carter the way former First District Congressmen Lindsay Thomas and Bo Ginn have been there for me.
Thank you for your support, God bless, and have a happy New Year!