Voters in the 122nd Legislative District will be losing more than a state legislator when Keith McCall steps away from his position as Speaker of the House at the end of this year.

They will be losing a friend – a voice in Harrisburg that has represented them for almost three decades.

Rep. McCall, a Summit Hill native who still resides there, announced Tuesday he will step down from his elected office when his term ends in December.

The reason for his departure is that he wants to spend more time with his young family.

While the announcement was a sad one for area voters, who elected him to 14 terms in office after he stepped in following the tragic death of his father at a young age, we hope the decision is a happy one for the McCall family.

We're sure he agonized over the decision to not continue in Harrisburg, because the House of Representatives, representing this area, is the only job the 50-year-old representative has ever known since he was 22-years-old. Fourteen times he ran for the office, and 14 times he was successful.

It will be interesting in the next year to see who will step forward to try and succeed McCall in Harrisburg. Whether it's a Democrat or Republican, one thing is certain. He or she will have an enormous pair of shoes to fill.

To say he has been good to this area is an understatement. While climbing to the top of the political ladder in the House with his election as Speaker last January, he never forgot his roots.

His signature has been stamped on important projects throughout the area for all these years, and we're confident he will continue to help this area as he concludes his final year in office.

McCall is such a popular figure in the area because he made the Carbon County important in Harrisburg. Every legislator knew where the small county, nestled in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains, was. It was Keith McCall's territory, and that made it important.

One of McCall's biggest assets was the fact that despite his success in Harrisburg, he remained a regular guy. Whether helping lead the legislature through a rough budget process, attending a social function, a local high school football game or a parade or community outing in the area, he was the same person. Put him in a pair of jeans and a sports shirt and you would never guess he was one of the most powerful and influential people in the state.

Having raised a family ourselves, we can relate to his reason for stepping down. The long battle over the the 2009-10 Pennsylvania budget, which had state officials wrangling back and forth, was a strenuous ordeal. Those long days and longer nights away from home certainly took a toll.

It made McCall realize he was missing out on some of life's best moments.

It brought him to the realization that he was missing out on a lot of what life has to offer – specifically his family, and his daughter and son growing up without his being a part of that great adventure known as fatherhood. Now that he has made his decision to step down, he will have that opportunity, and we wish him the best.

"The whole reason I went to Harrisburg was to make sure 'regular folks' had a voice in the Legislature, and I'm very proud of my record," McCall explained in his announcement to not seek re-election.

He succeeded in that mission. With him representing this area, local people felt they had a voice in Harrisburg.

We're confident Keith McCall won't be finished with public service once his term expires. No one who has put so much of his life into such an endeavor can walk away completely. We're sure, down the road, that he will have a future, positive impact on this area.

We wish McCall, his wife Betty, daughter Courtney, and son, Keith Robert II, a happy and productive life.

They earned it.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com