Friday’s deadline for filing for political office took on a new meaning Wednesday when Fred Hunsaker announced that he won’t seek re-election. A Republican District Four State Representative, Hunsaker has served a total of 14 years in the legislature in two separate terms that covered 20 years. “There were several factors for stepping down now,” he said. “One is the realization that there are a lot of really good people that can do this job and that 14 years is a fairly significant stretch. Another factor is a health issue in my family that I need to be more attentive to. “Also, you come to a point you feel like you’ve done what you set out to do and now may be a good time.” Hunsaker remembers his first day at the legislature. “It was somewhat overwhelming. At the beginning you are mixing in with a few new members, but most of them are very experienced and they know their way around. So there was the issue of being brand new and getting to know all the procedures. “But there was also the feeling that this is a neat experience and it’s going to be wonderful. I’ve since found it’s that way at the beginning of every session, too. You start each new session with a lot of anticipation of good things. Some good things do happen and some don’t.” Hunsaker said serving as long as he did he found change was inevitable. “The change I noticed that was most pronounced happened after I had been out of the legislature for six years, then went back in. I noticed the body seemed to be more conservative and there was a whole different set of ways of communicating with constituents. When I left before, in 1997, the telephone and regular mail was a very prominent way of communicating. When I came back e-mail had virtually taken over the telephone and regular mail.” He said the Internet has created a whole new set of expectations. “People wanted to hear back instantly. There were days of 100 to 200 e-mails and it’s not possible to get back to all of those with a personal message.” He said with the changing economy in recent years, dealing with the budget has been a greater challenge. “There are two parts to it, one is the lack of revenue and the other the demands or the needs of the citizens. Balancing those two was a particular challenge.” His advice to his successor? “First, to not have expectations that are too great, to not attempt to make major changes immediately. Most of the significant changes take some time and some persistence and a lot of hard work. New legislators need to come in with the understanding that they need to build their base, to do their homework and not expect to turn the world over in the first day.” Hunsaker said from his seat in the legislature he’s seen the economy improve. “Yes. We’ve already had signs that it has bottomed out. The real question is when does it go back up? I don’t think we have a clear indication that it’s on its way back up but there are signs that it’s not going down like it was and has started to bottom out. “How long it bounces along the bottom is hard to say.”
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