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Hartford — State Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, the eldest member of the General Assembly at age 86, said Tuesday night that this will be her final year in the legislature.
The veteran lawmaker said the decision not to seek re-election this fall was tough to make but said she was adhering to the advice of her doctor. Prague experienced a minor stroke on Dec. 25 and was hospitalized briefly.
"My doctor told me not to get myself into a very stressful, exhaustive situation because she said the second time you may not be so lucky," Prague said in an interview in her Senate office. "So I have to watch out for myself. It's a hard decision, but I have to face the reality. I don't want to end up in a wheelchair."
Prague is one of the longest-tenured legislators at the statehouse. A former schoolteacher, she won her first election to the House of Representatives in 1982 and served until 1990, when she became commissioner of the former state Department of Aging under then-Gov. Lowell P. Weicker.
Prague ran for the state Senate in 1994 and has served the 19th Senate District continuously since then. Her district includes the towns of Andover, Bozrah, Columbia, Franklin, Hebron, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon and Sprague, along with portions of Montville and Norwich.
She currently serves as co-chairman of both the legislature's Aging and Labor committees.
Prague, who is widowed, said she has noticed a difference in her health since the stroke. She feels she lacks the stamina she once had, particularly for the late-night debates that can run past midnight.
But what worried her the most was the prospect of defending her Senate seat this November. "A campaign is very difficult and so stressful. So I don't dare take a chance," she said. "I have a grandson, and I hope to see him graduate from college. That's my goal."
Prague intends to make a formal announcement of her plans today, the final day of this year's legislative session.
This will not be a final farewell, Prague said, as she anticipates frequent visits to the Capitol next year when she testifies on legislation during public hearings.