Senate honors Vi Simpson with resolution, speeches
By Jesselyn Bickley
INDIANAPOLIS – State senators took time out of Tuesday’s session to honor former Sen. Vi Simpson, a Democrat from Ellettsville who gave up her seat in the chamber last year to run for lieutenant governor.
Former Democratic Sen. Vi Simpson of Ellettsville, right, listens Tuesday as her former colleagues tell her how much they respect and admire her. Photo by Darian Eswine, TheStatehouseFile.com
Simpson served in the Indiana Senate for 28 years and was the minority floor leader from 2008 until she left last year. She had planned to seek another term but withdrew when Democrat gubernatorial nominee John Gregg picked her to be his running mate.
Sen. Timothy Lanane, D-Anderson , who is now the Senate minority leader, offered a resolution Tuesday to honor Simpson but other lawmakers chimed into the tribune.
Lanane said Simpson accomplished much during her career and was the first female Senate caucus leader. “One thing I’ve always remembered about Sen. Simpson, she’s a leader,” Lanane said.
Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, said Simpson never backed down from tough issues, like fighting for the underprivileged. He told the story of how on the Saturday before Christmas he called her just to see how she was doing. He said Simpson told him that for the first time in 28 years, she was baking Christmas cookies.
Arnold said it has been an honor and pleasure working with Simpson.
Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Nobesville, brought a special guest who once was in a dance contest with. Although, Simpson had lost that years-ago contest, she appeared happy to see her old acquaintance. Kenley also gave her a picture that showed the two of them in a meeting where Simpson is waving her finger at Kenley, reacting to something he’d said.
Kenley said he and Simpson grew to be great friends even though they had very different views on many issues. He told her he appreciated her coming into the Senate to be recognized.
Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, said lawmakers could also count on Simpson to advocate issues that were important but no one wanted to talk about. Rogers said it would take at least three lawmakers to do the job that Simpson did. “You have big heels to fill, but we will try to fill them,” Rogers said.
Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, said Tuesday that it will take three lawmakers to do the job of Vi Simpson, a former Democratic senator who left the General Assembly to run for lieutenant governor. Photo by Darian Eswine, TheStatehouseFile.com
Sen. Gregory Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said emotionally that Simpson had helped make him a better man. He also told Simpson he loved her and thanked her for all she did for him.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, told Simpson, “We are all replaceable but some people are harder to replace than others.”
Simpson told lawmakers that she’ll miss them – but not on days when it is cold or snowing outside. On those days, Simpson said, she is glad she is at home by her fireplace, nice and warm under her down comforter.
Simpson said she couldn’t believe how fast her 28 years as a Senator passed. She said she looks back on those years with great appreciation – for the people she worked with and relationships she formed.
“I learned taking risks is important,” Simpson said. She said taking risks might mean getting involved in an issue that you don’t know much about or just making friends with someone across the aisle. She said risks are important because they push you outside of your comfort zone.
Simpson ended her speech by giving the senators three pieces of advice.
“Don’t let a day go by without smiling. No matter how angry or frustrated find something to make you smile. Be civil to each other. Listen to each other – not just at the microphone,” said Simpson, a baseball fan. “No matter how cold or snowy, remember spring is just around the corner. The pitchers and catchers report in nine days and it’s going to be a good year.”
Jesselyn Bickley is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.