Editor’s Note: On the same morning that N.C. Senate Leader Phil Berger’s office announces that Sen. Dan Soucek is retiring at the end of his term in 2016, Deanna Ballard, a Republican, of Blowing Rock filed for N.C. Senate District 45, which is the seat Soucek currently occupies.
Watauga County Board of Elections Executive Director Matt Snyder said that Soucek unfiled on Tuesday, Dec. 15.
Reached for comment on Thursday morning, Ballard said she wasn’t immediately available to talk and would return a call in the afternoon.
Release from Senate Leader Phil Berger’s Office
Sen. Dan Soucek (R-Watauga) announced Thursday he will retire from the North Carolina Senate at the end of his term to spend more time with his wife and three children.
“As Christmas approaches and I reflect on the past year, I realize there were more than 180 nights this year when I was not home to kiss my wonderful wife and three children goodnight,” said Soucek. “It has been a great and humbling honor to be trusted by the citizens of Northwestern North Carolina to represent them in the state Senate, but I can’t continue to faithfully serve both my family and constituents.”
“I want to thank my family for their unfailing patience, support and sacrifice, all while graciously enduring the slings and arrows that were sometimes targeted at them because of the work of their father and husband.
“The hardest part of leaving the Senate is leaving a truly special group of friends that have worked with a sense of camaraderie and unity of purpose to put North Carolina back on the right track. I have served in the U.S. Army and as a missionary overseas, but I know I will never get the chance to be part of something as special and as meaningful as what we accomplished together in the legislature over the last five years.”
Since taking office following the historic November 2010 elections that put Republicans in charge of the legislature for the first time in more than a century, Soucek has been a fresh voice for reforming public education, exercising fiscal discipline and stopping regulatory overreach. He has served as co-chairman of the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee since 2011 and cosponsored major legislation to strengthen student literacy, improve graduation rates, reward effective teachers and eliminate the cap on the number of public charter schools.
Soucek, a champion for family values, said his proudest achievements include bills honoring North Carolina native and beloved evangelist Rev. Billy Graham as the state’s “Favorite Son” and requesting that a statue of Graham be placed in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol Building.
A 1991 West Point graduate, Soucek spent more than eight years as a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army and is currently a member of the N.C. Army National Guard. He previously did humanitarian and disaster relief work with Samaritan’s Purse. He and his wife, Kim, are parents to three children: Isaac, Janie Ann and Lucy.
“Whether it was improving public education as a member of the North Carolina Senate, defending our freedoms as an Army helicopter pilot or aiding those in poverty during his many years of humanitarian work, Sen. Soucek has committed his life to helping and serving others,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham.) “Dan’s retirement is a big loss for the Senate and the people of his district, but his family deserves to have him back full-time.”