INDIANAPOLIS – A veteran lawmaker from New Haven will not seek a 19th term in the Indiana House.
Republican Rep. Phyllis Pond has served since 1978, often focusing on education issues that are near to her heart as a retired kindergarten teacher.
"It was a very hard decision. I really enjoy it. There are so many things that we have an influence on," Pond said. "This will make a lot of people happy who want to run. I want to run, but I think I should leave it for someone else now."
She said five or six people have contacted her about the House District 85 primary next year. Only one has made public his intention to run, Republican attorney Casey Cox. Filing doesn't start until January.
Pond, 82, has had pulmonary problems in recent years, forcing her to wear oxygen at all times. She conceded she is still deciding whether she can finish her full term, which ends in late 2014.
Her doctor has expressed concern about her health being in the Statehouse in January and exposed to germs.
Pond said she will decide whether she will resign early in the coming months. If that happens, a caucus of local precinct persons will appoint a replacement.
"She has a lot of grit, spunk, such a good person and a solid Republican. We'll miss her," said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne. "She's been a great public servant for our area – very loyal and very effective."
He said his favorite story about Pond was last year when she was in the hospital and an important vote on the right-to-work labor bill came up.
"She said, 'I'm going and they're not going to stop me.' And she came down and voted because it was that important to her," Long said.
He also laughed that "no one was ever going to beat her. She taught everyone in New Haven in school and she is loved out there."
Pond has a bachelor's degree in education from Ball State University and a master's from Indiana University.
While in the House, she has worked on many key pieces of legislation. She was the original author of the Primetime educational bill to lower class sizes to 18 in kindergarten through third grade. In recent years she helped author a law setting up a mediation process for marriage dissolution.
Pond said she won't endorse anyone in the race to replace her.