Kendrick gives final speech

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By The Staff

TALLAHASSEE - On Thursday, April 24, State Representative Will Kendrick (R-Carrabelle) gave his farewell remarks to the Members of the Florida House of Representatives. This week marks the final week of the last legislative session he will serve in the House due to term limits.

He was acknowledged for remarks by Speaker Pro Tempore Marty Bowen and Speaker Marco Rubio announced that Kendrick had 15 minutes to speak, 10 as a Republican and 5 as a Democrat which, in turn, brought laughter throughout the chamber and gallery.

The speech commanded the attention of the chamber as well as the gallery which seated family members, friends, staff, and a class of students from Franklin County. It was sincere and heartfelt and received applause on two occasions.

Kendrick started his farewell remarks by restating a phrase that he first used in his freshman Session, "You all may think you are in high cotton today but let me remind all of you....the same road that brought you here will one day take you back....with the same thing you got here with....your character and integrity."

In his remarks, Kendrick reflected on his experiences and friendships he has encountered and gained during his eight years in the House of Representatives and his 22 years in political service. He mentioned several legislators by name and how they had influenced him in some manner.

Kendrick was pleased to have Sen. Charlie Dean join him at his desk during the speech and expressed his delight in having former House Speaker and Senate President (and legend) Mallory Horne sit with him earlier in the day making note that this is the first time that former Speaker/President Horne has used floor privileges since his service in the 1960s.

In addition, Kendrick was flanked by his youngest son Collins, who occupied his Dad's chair, while he spoke to a seated and attentive audience.

Kendrick simply thanked his family for allowing him to do what was important to him in serving the people for the last 22 years. His family, including his wife, three sons, daughter-in-law, #1 grandson, and sister were present and were teary-eyed and smiling while nodding their united approval for the sacrifices made while understanding the passion that drove him.

"You see, many people wonder what makes me tick. My entire political career has been about trying to ensure that tomorrow is a little better than today, for someone. Many times, not realizing or knowing who it may be that you're going to touch but knowing that by your works someone will have a chance for change," stated Kendrick.

A quote made by Kendrick was one by Robert E. Lee which says, "Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less." He credited former and current staff with teaching him knowledge of the process, the importance of keeping your eye on the goals, and patience to get the job done despite the different values of a diverse body of legislators.

He recognized how different people have different values while still having the same goals. "It's only how we got there that's different", Kendrick said.

Kendrick also remarked that all his staff shared the same vision as himself, making someone's tomorrow a little better than today. He continued, "Sometime you just as soon not take that call but that may be the person you are going to touch that day."

He also reflected on his faith. Recognizing his pastor, Larry Millender, sitting in the gallery, he commented, "It's like him being in the pulpit and speaking. You never know who that sermon is for but God sent it for someone that day. That's the reason you've got it because you're going to be the one to touch them."

He offered words of encouragement to junior legislators such as Rep. Debbie Boyd (D-Newberry) and Rep. Jimmy Patronis (R-Panama City) and instilled the concept of remaining true to their roots, their values, and the accomplished results at the end of the day and how they would be good leaders. He made reference to now Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) by telling her at the beginning of his first legislative session that "One day you'll understand where I come from. One day you'll know the people I represent and the people I deal with."

For the final time, Kendrick reminded the members just how large District 10 is by emphasizing it consists of all or parts of 10 counties and is the largest House District east of the Mississippi River, which brought home the realization of the commitment needed to represent his constituents.

Kendrick, who never fails to mention where he comes from and how he anticipates returning home no matter where the road of life may take him next said, "At the end of the day, I guess I can say I've about come to that road, that same road, that too shall take me home where I've come from."

"Mr. Speaker, members, I bid farewell", ended Kendrick.

Afterward, House members joined him at his desk to show their respect with hugs and camaraderie for several minutes before regular business resumed.