State Senator Tom Wyss Will Not Seek Re-Election (VIDEO)

By Emma Koch - 21Alive

September 12, 2013 Updated Sep 12, 2013 at 9:10 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- After serving 28 years in the Indiana Senate, State Senator Tom Wyss (R-Fort Wayne) announced Thursday he will not seek re-election to Senate District 15 in 2014.

Below is a statement from Senator Tom Wyss' Office

“Over the years, Hoosiers in northeast Indiana have humbled and honored me with their unwavering support, but it’s time for me to step aside,” Wyss said. “With 36 years in elected office and 31 years serving in the military, it’s been a wonderfully rewarding career.”

Wyss, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security, Transportation and Veterans Affairs Committee, started his political career on the Allen County Council in 1978 and has held public office ever since. He began serving in the Indiana Senate in 1985 and has served on several committees including Appropriations, Local Government and Rules and Legislative Procedure.

Wyss enlisted in the Indiana Air National Guard in 1966 and retired in 1997 as a lieutenant colonel. He has drawn from his military background in a variety of roles in the Senate. He created the Indiana Commission on Military and Veterans Affairs, which he chaired for several years. In addition, Wyss authored several measures to assist Hoosier veterans including a resolution urging the Indiana Department of Transportation to name part of I-69 the “Iraq Afghanistan Veterans Memorial Highway” and a new law to make it easier for service members to apply their military skills to an Emergency Medical Services license. In 2007, he authored Indiana’s most comprehensive military veterans’ benefits legislation.

“This experience has been one I will never forget and for that I am forever grateful.” Wyss said. “Making the decision not to run again is difficult, but I know that this is the right time for me to retire and enjoy life outside of public service.”

Wyss has also spearheaded key proposals to protect Hoosiers. He fought tirelessly to keep Indiana roads safe by co-authoring legislation to prohibit the dangerous practice of texting while driving and authored a law to require everyone in Indiana to wear a seat belt. In 2001, after an 11-year battle, he helped pass the state’s drunk driving law establishing .08 as the legal limit.

He was recently recognized by the Indiana National Guard and awarded the 2013 Charles Dick award for his contributions to Hoosier veterans. In June, the Indiana Disabled American Veterans named Wyss “Legislator of the Year,” and in July, the Indiana American Legion presented him the Distinguished Public Service Award.

Wyss has also been heavily involved in his community. He is a Board Member for the Hoosier Burn Camp, and the Northeast Indiana Burn Foundation. He serves on the Board of the Fort Wayne Medical Education Advisory and is a Founding Member of the Fort Wayne Crime Stoppers Advisory Board. In honor of his late wife, he also is a Founding Member of the Indiana Breast Cancer Awareness Trust.

"Tom’s talent, expertise and knowledge in the Senate will be greatly missed. His passion and tenacity are his trademarks, and have allowed him to enjoy a level of success as a legislator that is quite rare," Senate President Pro Tem David Long said. “Also, his expertise in Homeland Security on both the state and national level is second to none. Tom and I have been colleagues for 17 years and it has been an honor to know him, serve with him and to call him my friend.”

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