'Thank You'

By Sen. Tom Neuville

As some of you may already know, Governor Tim Pawlenty appointed me as a Rice County District Court Judge. I tendered my resignation as District 25 Minnesota State Senator, effective January 1, 2008.

I look forward to a new chapter in my life and career. It is exciting and a great opportunity for me to serve as a District Court Judge in a field of practice that I truly love.

On the other hand, I leave the Minnesota Senate with mixed emotions. As I look back on my 17-year career representing citizens District 25, I realize what a privilege and honor it has been.

My youngest child was only 5 years old when I was first elected in 1990. She is 22 years old today and a college senior. Our family has been blessed in many ways by the opportunities afforded to us while campaigning and serving as your State Senator.

My wife and I thank everyone for your friendship, for the smiles and waves that you gave us during parades and the support that you provided from year to year. One of our great pleasures is to drive on county roads through the beautiful farmland of District 25 during fall harvest.

Senate District 25 is a perfect cross-section of the entire State of Minnesota. The challenge of representing many diverse interests has helped me to be more respectful of differing views and a better advocate for my own beliefs.

I have seen politics change significantly these 17 years. The influence of single-topic special interest groups has increased. Concern for the long-term general welfare of our state -both by citizens and legislators - has declined.

As I leave the legislature and prepare to work in the judicial branch of government, I would like to share a few parting thoughts:

First, the vast majorities of legislators work very hard and are honorable people. This is certainly not the perception, but it is the reality.

Second, we all have to learn to disagree with each other more respectfully. Politics, by nature, is a process for resolving differing viewpoints. It is a battleground of ideas. Conflict is not inherently bad. But personal disrespect is corrosive and should not be tolerated.

Thirdly, the political process is not a sporting event. It is essential to our freedom and our welfare. Citizens must do more to inform themselves about issues and candidates. Expect candidates to state their values and positions clearly and personally - not through third parties or special interest groups.

For 17 years the only promises that I made were to work hard, serve respectfully, remain accessible to my constituents and vote conservatively.

I believe I kept that promise and can now leave the legislature with a good conscience and close friends - both Democrats and Republicans. More importantly, my family and I will never forget all of the friendships that we have developed over the past 17 years, in St. Paul and in District 25.

If there is one down side to serving as a legislator, it is controlling your weight due to the many dinners, church festivals and community celebrations you are expected to attend. I'll still be visible in the community and at some of my favorite church festivals. However, I also hope to begin a long-needed diet.

Thank you to everyone. It has been my privilege to serve you.

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