MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama’s longest-serving U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby returned to the State Capitol to be honored where his career in politics began more than half a century ago.
Shelby received a standing ovation in the Old House Chamber, filled with state leaders and lawmakers. It’s the same place he worked when he served in the Alabama Senate 52 years ago.
“Today I’ve come, with your help and others, full circle. I’m back where I started, and it’s good to be home,” Shelby said.
During a joint session, legislative leaders, Gov. Kay Ivey and Shelby himself spoke about his long service to the state.
“It’s a great honor, you honored me, you honor the legacy. But it’s not about me, it’s about our state and our people and the future of the state,” Shelby said.
Shelby served in the Alabama Senate from 1970 to 1978. He then served eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, serving six consecutive terms before retiring this year.
Sen. Jabo Waggoner is the last lawmaker still serving in the statehouse who worked with Shelby when he was a state lawmaker.
“When the history book of Alabama politicians is written, my friend, you will be right at the top,” Waggoner (R – Vestavia Hills) said.
Gov. Ivey thanked Shelby for improving the state through education investments, the growth of the Redstone Arsenal and upgrades to the Port of Mobile.
“His wisdom will benefit Alabama for many decades to come,” Ivey said.
Shelby ended his brief remarks with gratitude for the state.
“Thank you. I’m grateful and humbled because of that, and I will never forget it. Thank you very, very much,” Shelby said.
Shelby’s legacy continues in the U.S. Senate, as his former chief of staff Sen. Katie Britt now fills his seat.