The Saline Courier Weekend

Rep. Fite announces retirement from public service

- By Destin Davis ddavis@bentoncour­

State Representa­tive Lanny Fite announced at the Saline County Legislativ­e Breakfast on Friday he will not run for reelection in 2024.

“I will have been in public service for 26 years at the end of this term. I’m getting a little older and there’s a time for everything,” Fite said. “I want to do a little traveling and spend time with my grandkids and family. Public life is allconsumi­ng.”

Fite’s retirement marks an end of an era for the county.

For nearly three decades, Fite has been at the center of public life in Saline County. He was elected county judge in 1998, serving in that capacity from 1999 until 2014.

During his tenure as the head of the county, Fite said there were new 199 subdivisio­ns built in Saline County in those 16 years. The county was growing at a rate it had never seen before.

He also oversaw the constructi­on of the new airport in Bryant. Fite described that as one of his biggest accomplish­ments because the county was able to complete the project without spending any local money.

Fite said he was always interested in working at the state level, so when longtime Representa­tive Ann Clemer was term-limited before the 2014 election, Fite decided to get in the ring.

“I would not run against Ann so when she term-limited out I decided to run,” said Fire.

He said working at the state level had several difference­s from serving at the county judge level, because a lot of the issues they worked on were not local.

He said one of his proudest accomplish­ments while working in the house was passing a net metering bill in the current session.

The bill phases out the 1:1 credit for those who use rooftop solar to power their business and homes. Formerly, utility companies like Energy Arkansas and the Arkansas

Electric Cooperativ­e had to pay retail rates for electricit­y they purchase from solar customers.

The goal of the bill was to reduce that cost on the energy companies.

In addition to being a public servant, Fite is also a veteran. In 1969, Fite was drafted to Vietnam and spent 13 months deployed in the war.

Before running for office in Saline County, Fite owned an asphalt business in Benton for 18 years.

While Fite has announced his retirement, he still has time left on his current term, he will serve in the house until 2025.

Fite said at the breakfast that he wanted to announce his retirement early enough to give those who might want to seek his seat plenty of

time to prepare.

Fite shared that he is grateful for the opportunit­y he has had to serve and described it as one of his life’s biggest honors.

“The people of Saline County have always been very good to me and I enjoy working with people. I enjoy trying to solve problems and it’s been a very gratifying career. I just appreciate the people because they were kind enough to elect me many times.”

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