Sen. Harper announces she won’t run for re-election - WSMV News 4

Sen. Harper announces she won’t run for re-election

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State Sen. Thelma Harper (Photo: Tennessee General Assembly) State Sen. Thelma Harper (Photo: Tennessee General Assembly)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Longtime state Sen. Thelma Harper announced on Wednesday she would not seek re-election to her Senate seat.

“Even though there is no greater honor than being able to serve and be your voice on the hill, I truly feel the time is right for me to pass the baton to the next generation of future leaders,” Harper said in a press release. “Even though I will no longer be an elected  public servant, I will continue to serve and work in the community to help those in need.”

Harper was the first African American woman elected to the Tennessee state Senate and is the longest-serving female state Senator in Tennessee history. She was first elected in 1991.

Prior to joining the Senate, Harper served eight years as a Metro councilwoman.

“Tennessee is losing one of its most experienced and likable public servants with the retirement of Senator Harper,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in a press release. “I will miss her friendship, her insight and her wonderful sense of humor.”

Her dedication to politics and public service was driven by a commitment to serving women, children and the elderly. She made her name as a community leader through her efforts to close the former Bordeaux dump.

“Together, we have accomplished more than I could have ever expected,” Harper said in a press release. “I am especially proud to have been a voice to our most vulnerable and being able to pass meaningful legislation regarding women, children and the elderly. All of this fueled my dedication to politics and public service.”

“Even before she was elected to the Senate, Thelma Harper was working to make the lives of Nashvillians better. I've served with many members and none have had more compassion and strength of will than Thelma Harper,” said Lt. Gov. Randy McNally in a press release. “She has consistently broken down barriers throughout her career without ever breaking a sweat. She has been a credit to Nashville and a most distinguished member of the Senate. Her hand is consistently extended in friendship toward those she serves and those she serves with. She has truly left Tennessee and the Senate better than she found it. While we will miss her in the Senate, her retirement is well-deserved.”

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