The commissioner from District 5, who serves residents in Jacksonville, Piedmont, and parts of Pleasant Valley, Rabbittown and White Plains, officially announced his decision at the commission’s meeting. The meeting was Abbott’s last as chairman under the commission’s rotating schedule. Commissioner Tim Hodges will take the post in February.
Abbott said the primary reason not to run again was to spend more time with his 13-year-old grandson, whom he recently adopted.
“I’m not getting any younger and he’s getting older,” Abbott said. “When you get to be 73, you don’t have a whole of people left in your life who depend on you, but he needs me more than the commission needs me.”
Abbott said he had been asked to run for re-election, and had also been approached to run for other positions, including for the state board of education, but said Thursday he’s done with politics.
Abbott was first elected to the commission in 2002, and re-elected in 2006 and 2010. The former Jacksonville State University baseball coach said he ran for the seat on the urging of his friend and former commissioner Eli Henderson. He said Thursday he was most proud of his first year in office when he worked to secure federal money for residents’ safety and protection during the early stages of the incineration of the Army’s chemical weapons stockpile in Anniston.
Hodges thanked Abbott at the meeting for his most recent nine-month tenure as chairman, and also his 11 years in office, emphasizing Abbott’s role in parks and recreation activities for the county.
“It didn’t matter if it was in Anniston, or Oxford, or Jacksonville, Rudy is always the go-to guy when you need a ball field,” Hodges said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do without him, but I’m sure we’ll keep him around.”
Only one candidate has announced intentions to run for Abbott’s District 5 seat; Jacksonville resident Jay Dill announced in November he will run on the Republican ticket.
Abbott is one of three locally serving Democrats in elected office in Calhoun County.