Georgia House Speaker David Ralston announced Friday he will not seek another term as leader of the legislative chamber in January, citing a health issue.
“Serving as speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives has been the honor of a lifetime, and I owe a heartfelt thank you to my colleagues for the trust and confidence they placed in me 13 years ago,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.
“I need to take time to address a health challenge which has arisen recently, and the House needs a speaker who can devote the necessary time and energy to the office.”
House members elect a speaker every two years on the first day of the General Assembly session following the November elections. Ralston was elected speaker in 2010 and has been reelected every two years since then, usually with only token opposition if that.
Friday’s announcement will not affect Ralston’s representation of the 7thHouse District in Northwest Georgia. He is running for reelection next week unopposed and said he will continue to serve his district during the 2023-24 session.
“I love the House and want to see the honorable men and women who serve in it succeed,” he said. “I will work the remainder of my term as speaker to ensure a smooth transition for my successor.”
Ralston was elected to the House in 2002 after spending six years in the state Senate during the 1990s. He ran for attorney general in 1998, losing to Democrat Thurbert Baker.
Highlights of Ralston’s time as speaker include his backing of the largest state income tax cut in Georgia history, a $900 million transportation funding bill that has helped the state plug a backlog of critical bridge and highway improvements, adoption reform, and the first-ever paid parental leave policy for teachers and state employees.
Most recently, Ralston led the way this year to passage of legislation overhauling Georgia’s mental health-care system.
“David Ralston has been a steadfast leader for Georgia throughout his time as speaker, and our state is better off thanks to his wisdom and commitment to all Georgians while guiding the House through challenging times,” Gov. Brian Kemp said Friday. “While his service as speaker is coming to a close, I know I will continue to ask my friend for his advice and counsel.”
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.