ATHENS — David Ralston, the 68-year-old speaker of the Georgia House, passed away on Wednesday, only two days after the House Republican Caucus chose a replacement to take over in January.
Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge, has been ill for a while. His office reported that he passed away with his wife Sheree, his children, and other family members present. Plans will be revealed in the future.
Ralston stated early last week that he will not stand for re-election as speaker of the House by his House colleagues, citing his health. On November 8, he was unopposedly reelected by residents of Georgia’s 7th House District in Northwest.
Ralston was the state house speaker in the country who had been in office the longest at the time of his death.
The remainder of the present term, which ends in January, will be presided over by House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, a Republican from Milton, in accordance with the Georgia Constitution.
Jon Burns, a Republican from Newington and the majority leader in the House, was proposed as Ralston’s replacement as speaker on Monday. On January 9, the opening day of the 2023 General Assembly session, the entire House will vote on the nomination.
At the beginning of the 2010 legislative season, Ralston was chosen as speaker. Since 2003, he has already served in the House.
He served in the state Senate for six years in the 1990s until quitting the legislature in 1998 to run unsuccessfully for attorney general.
Political leaders who worked with Ralston on important pieces of legislation the General Assembly passed during his tenure recognised him as an effective leader on Wednesday.
Governor Brian Kemp stated that Speaker Ralston “leaves an indelible legacy on this state” and “was a pioneer in the establishment of Georgia’s Republican leadership.” “His last session as speaker will be remembered for passing a historic income tax cut that puts more money in the pockets of taxpayers for years to come, helping Georgians fight through inflation, and introducing a landmark mental health reform law.
We are particularly pleased of our prior bipartisan work on the citizens’ arrest law reform and the addition of a hate crime statute to Georgia law, both of which would not have been possible without the speaker’s unwavering leadership. Only a small portion of the many achievements that David Ralston’s decades-long devotion to Georgia bore witness to were these historic ones.
State Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, who just week won the majority leadership position among Senate Republicans, continued, “Speaker Ralston was a solid, dependable guiding force under the Gold Dome in good times and terrible times.” “Regardless of partisan disagreements, he appreciated each of the elected members that made up his beloved House because he adored the idea that it actually represented all of Georgia’s citizens. To lead in that manner, one must have a sincere good heart and be morally upright. Democrats also gave Ralston’s passing some thought.
The head of the Georgia Democratic Party, U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams of Atlanta, said, “Georgia Democrats join the entire state in mourning Speaker David Ralston.” Speaker Ralston “led with fairness and honesty, searched for common ground, and always put his dedication to Georgia first…. Speaker Ralston will be greatly missed by those who agreed with him and by those who frequently disagreed.”
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