For nearly three decades, Bernie Kraft has been a fixture on the county legislature.
But after Dec. 31, 2009, he won't be anymore.
Kraft has decided not to run for reelection to the second district seat in November for health reasons. He has been in and out of the hospital with a leg infection and heart troubles since the beginning of May.
"My doctors tell me I don't have the stamina for it anymore," he said. "They said I shouldn't put myself through another campaign. So it's with great sorrow that I tell people I'm not running again."
Longtime public servant
This will be the first time Kraft's name hasn't been on the ballot in the second district since 1981, when he lost the election to incumbent Caryl Frawley. That run came after an unsuccessful bid for the Clay town board in 1975.
Kraft said he first decided to run for office when the government started to take more and more of his money.
"I worked for a number of years, and I was starting to make some money," he said. "I wanted to use that money to take care of my family. But every time I started to move up, the government wanted more and more from me. So I started to frequent the places where government was exercised. Eventually I saw a door open and an opportunity to get become more involved."
Though he lost in 1981, Kraft ran again two years later, defeating Ed Szczesniak for the legislature seat. He has since mounted 12 successful campaigns.
Even this time, though he hasn't been actively campaigning, Kraft, 71, believes people would still have elected him to the legislature.
"In order to get on the ballot, you have to collect 255 signatures," he said. "I had nothing to do with it because I've been in the hospital, but my friends and supporters have been out there, and they collected 700 signatures to support my candidacy for reelection. It's just awesome."