Bill Carris, a three-term senator from Rutland County, is resigning from the Senate for health reasons.
Carris injured his back and fractured his ankle in 2010, and after a third surgery this fall had not fully recovered. He resigned from his position as majority leader after he was re-elected in November.
Over the last two weeks, Carris said he did a lot of soul-searching and discussed his options with his doctor and his family.
“It’s a hectic place, and I wasn’t going to be able to run like I should,” Carris said.
Carris entered politics after a long career overseeing his family’s business, Carris Reels, which manufactures cable reels. The company, which employs 470 workers, is now employee-owned.
Carris is one of three senators from Rutland County. He was the first Democrat to get a seat from the county after passage of the civil union bill in 2000. He served on the Finance, Institutions and Economic Development committees. In the last biennium, he was the Senate majority leader.
“It’s one of those places,” Carris said. “You get the bug. Everybody says it’s an honor to be there, but that’s not BS, it is. I got queasy every time I walked through the capitol doors to think I worked there.”
Gov. Peter Shumlin described Carris’ resignation as a loss for the state and Rutland County. He praised Carris for helping to guide consensus on issues as majority leader and his “hard work on critical issues, including economic development, housing and fighting substance abuse.”
“As the owner of Carris Reels, Bill also brought an important business perspective to discussions on virtually every issue,” Shumlin said.
Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell described Carris as an integral part of the Senate. “His good humor and commitment to our state will be missed,” Campbell said in a letter to Senate colleagues on Wednesday. “We wish him well and good luck.”
Carris is characteristically modest about the impact of his tenure in office. “I don’t know that there’s one accomplishment,” Carris said. “The whole place is a team of sorts. We may disagree a lot, but you’re part of one of 30. I don’t know that anyone can nail down a given accomplishment.”
Carris went to work for his father’s company after serving in the U.S. Army. He is a graduate of Castleton State College and a lifelong resident of the Rutland area.
The governor will appoint Carris’ replacement in the coming weeks.