Longtime Golden Triangle legislator stepping down

Staff Writer

State Rep. Gary Chism, a Republican from Columbus, announced this week he will be stepping down from his seat later this month after more than two decades in the Legislature.

Chism, 69, told the Daily Times Leader on Tuesday he is stepping down for health reasons and to spend more time with his wife, Barbara. His last day in the Legislature is set for June 30.

“My wife is home on a walker and a week ago, while I was down in Jackson, she fell at 2 a.m.,” he said. “I had somebody staying with her, but I told them in the Legislature I wouldn’t be back for the rest of this session. When I got up here, I got to thinking about 21 sessions and thought, this is enough. I’ll just go ahead and retire. It’s not as much fun as it used to be.”

Chism also suffered a stroke in the spring of 2018 that required hospitalization and temporarily sidelined the longtime Republican lawmaker.

“You can’t be a legislator and not see anybody,” he said. “I’m better now, but it’s just time. It’s just time let somebody else take over for a while. I was on the [Lowndes County Board of Education] for 11 years before the Legislature, so I have had half my life in public service.”

First elected in 2000 to represent House District 37, which covers parts of Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties, Chism most recently served as chair of the House Insurance Committee.