[private]Sen. Ross Tolleson (R-Perry) announced his resignation Tuesday from the Georgia Senate, effective Nov. 1, saying in a statement he has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
“While I may be retiring from the State Senate, I look forward to continuing to be involved in strengthening our communities and spending quality time with family and friends,” he said.
Tolleson, 59, a financial advisor and tree farmer, was first elected to the Senate in 2002 and is currently chairman of the influential Natural Resources Committee.
“Ross is not only a respected member of the State Senate, he is an individual I am proud to call a friend,” said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. “He is one of the hardest working members of the Senate and is widely known to be the first member to arrive in the morning – often before others even got out of bed.
Tolleson surprised some of his friends and colleagues when he decided to run for reelection in 2014, and it was speculated he would definitely not run again in 2016.
“When he ran last time, he wrestled with the question of whether he ought to do it,” said a capitol lobbyist.
As chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Tolleson has frequently tangled with environmental groups over the committee’s approach to water issues.
When coastal lawmakers and environmentalists tried to renew a prohibition on the injection of surface water into the Floridan aquifer, Tolleson blocked a committee vote on the bill because he contended there wasn’t enough “sound science” to justify a permanent ban.
Tolleson was born and raised in Perry and his grandfather, J. D. Shannon Sr., served in both the state Senate and House of Representatives. He was an intern for U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn in the late 1970s, where one of his fellow interns was Jim Galloway, now a political reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
A special election will have to be called to elect a replacement for Tolleson.
© 2015 by The Georgia Report