BIG SHOES TO FILL Wendell Ford Retires After 24 Years in the Senate by Rob Hulsman If you have flown, smoked, farmed, voted, had a baby or even plugged in a light, Wendell H. Ford has protected your interests as a Kentucky citizen over the last 24 years in the United States Senate. Ford, Kentucky's longest serving United States Senator, announced his retirement this year from what is going to be one of the most highly contested seats this election cycle. Wendell H. Ford was born in Thruston, Kentucky in 1924, and steadily worked his way up the ranks of the state's Democratic party through his lifetime. He was elected as a state senator in 1965, quickly moving up to lieutenant governor in 1967. Four years later he became the Commonwealth's 49th Governor. Moving to the national stage in the mid 70s, Ford's presence has been an effective and important one on Capitol Hill. As Senator, he has firmly backed the economic interests of our state through such legislation as the National Energy Security Acts of 1977 and 1992, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act Amendments of 1986 and the Tobacco Reform Act of 1985. Ever the Democrat, Ford has voted along party lines socially speaking, but has not been a pork-barrel trough feeder. As chairman of the Joint Committee on Printing, Ford cut millions of waste from the budget, as well as instituting the first ever program for the use of recycled printing paper by the federal government. As the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, Ford has pressed for campaign finance reform, improved voter registration procedures and a two-year, as opposed to four, budget. A fiscally responsible man who also has voted for such citizen-friendly bills as the National Voter Registration Act, Ford is a formidable politician. Recognized as a person who gives back to the community, Ford has been honored by a wide array of groups. His sense of community is also apparent given his strong support of Kentucky Educational Television, the Kentucky Housing Corporation and the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts. Ford's tenacity as a politician and leader, combined with his southern charm has propelled the good Senator from Kentucky to a position of bi-partisan respect that has greatly served the Commonwealth over the past 24 years. As the race heats up to fill his shoes, by comparison most have much smaller feet.