Veteran Democratic Lawmaker Diagnosed with Dementia, Plans to Retire | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Veteran Democratic Lawmaker Diagnosed with Dementia, Plans to Retire

Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, announced this morning that he will retire from the Mississippi House of Representatives after being diagnosed with dementia; he served in the House for 34 years.

Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, announced this morning that he will retire from the Mississippi House of Representatives after being diagnosed with dementia; he served in the House for 34 years. Photo by Imani Khayyam.

— House Speaker Philip Gunn directed all members to their seats this morning, as Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, took the podium for a point of personal privilege.

Holland announced that after doctors diagnosed him with dementia last week, he has decided to retire from the Mississippi House of Representatives at the end of this session. The funeral director from Lee County was in the hospital for a few days last session, but had made a full recovery. Holland told the House that he joins thousands of Mississippians and Americans with the disease. He said he decided to announce his diagnosis publicly to bring awareness to the brain disease.

“We (he and his wife) hope that this might promote greater understanding and public awareness of this condition,” he said this morning in the House.

The veteran Democratic lawmaker is known for his vocal politics, and in recent years he remained an outspoken advocate for public health in the state. Holland said he plans to carry on in his day-to-day activities but realistically will have to get his affairs in order and prepare for the day when his cognitive functions betray him.

“Please understand I do not fear the future, and my spirit is far from broken and defeated. I assure you I am secure in my faith in the almighty sovereign grand architect of the universe,” he told the House this morning. “I reveal this diagnosis today not for sympathy, but to simply ask for your understanding and your patience in this journey and for your continuing prayers.”

Holland left the podium to a standing ovation from House members and everyone in the galleries above. Several lawmakers wiped tears from their eyes, and many went to hug Holland.

Gunn led the House in prayer for Holland after he spoke, praising him for his courage for sharing his personal story publicly.

Email state reporter Arielle Dreher at arielle@jacksonfreepress.com.

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