story by Roby Brock, with Talk Business, a content partner with The City Wire
Auditor of State Charlie Daniels (D) will not seek re-election in 2014 after nearly three decades of holding elective office.
Daniels, a former Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands and Secretary of State, is eligible for one more term as Auditor. He will be 74 in December and says it is time to retire and spend more time with his family.
“After a good deal of consideration and discussion with my family and staff, I have decided not to seek re-election as Auditor of State next year,” Daniels said. “I am grateful to the voters of the state of Arkansas for giving me the opportunity to serve for all these years, first as Commissioner of State Lands, then as Secretary of State, and now as Auditor. I have always been keenly aware of the enormous responsibility that comes with serving in an elected capacity, and I am humbled by the trust and confidence voters have shown me since I ran for my first statewide elected office in 1984.”
“I love this state, and its people. I have called Arkansas home my whole life. I raised my family here and came to a job every day where I was able to make our state government work better for the people we serve. I am proud of the accomplishments we have made along the way,” he said. “I will always have very fond memories of my life in public service, but I am also greatly looking forward to this next chapter of my life.”
A FIXTURE IN ARKANSAS POLITICS
Daniels has been a fixture in Arkansas politics since the mid-1980′s. He rode to office on the strength of an easily identifiable name and friendly campaign personality.
In 1984 when he sought the Democratic nomination for Land Commissioner, the popular country music song, “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band was an asset on the campaign trail.
Daniels beat five other candidates and won the primary run-off with 54% of the vote. He went on to serve as Land Commissioner for 18 years, until 2002, when he made a successful run against then-First Lady Janet Huckabee in the race for Secretary of State. He won that campaign with 62% of the vote, garnering more votes than any other candidate for statewide elected office that year. Daniels served as Secretary of State for two four-year terms. He then ran for State Auditor in 2010, carrying every county in Arkansas.
“In every office where I have served, I have been guided by the principles that I believe are most important in public service: embracing change as an opportunity for improvement, using technology to make government more efficient, preserving our state’s historical and natural resources, maintaining integrity in public service by treating everyone we serve with fairness and respect, and committing to the highest quality of customer service,” Daniels said. “As one of the small number of people in history to hold multiple constitutional offices, I have worked hard to improve every one, with the goal of leaving a solid foundation on which future generations can build.”
Daniels also said the personnel he surrounded himself with were critical to his successful public service career.
“I also want to say ‘thank you’ to the hundreds of individuals who have worked for me over the years. I have always believed that success begins with having good people around you, and I would not be here without the loyal and capable service of my staff,” Daniels said.
“I’ve always felt it was a marker of success when another state called my office for advice on imitating a program we’d created, which proved what I’ve always known – even though we’re a small state we are still innovators and leaders, and I’m proud that we’re still setting that standard in my office today,” he added.
Daniels is a native of Parkers Chapel, near El Dorado, Arkansas. He joined the United States Air Force after high school, serving four years of active duty and another 15 years in the Air Force Reserves.
He attended both Southern Arkansas University and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock after his active duty military career, and then worked for 13 years as an electrician with Arkansas Power and Light Company.
His first role in public service came in 1972 when he was elected to the Parker’s Chapel School Board. He would later be appointed by Gov. David Pryor to serve as the Director of the Arkansas Department of Labor, where he continued to serve under Gov. Bill Clinton.
Daniels was married for 46 years to the late Patricia Burleson Daniels. He has a daughter, Marsha, and a son, Chuck. He has six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. In 1996, Daniels received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Shorter College in North Little Rock.