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Sen. Karen Carter Peterson calls it quits and resigns from the legislature

Peterson spoke of battling depression and a gambling addiction a day earlier
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 9:49 PM CDT
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Karen Carter Peterson, in 2012, was elected to become the first female to chair the Louisiana...
Karen Carter Peterson, in 2012, was elected to become the first female to chair the Louisiana Democratic Party.(Louisiana Democratic Party)

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - It was a major shake-up in the New Orleans legislative delegation. Longtime state lawmaker Sen. Karen Carter Peterson suddenly resigned from office.

A day earlier Peterson had spoken to her senate colleagues before saying a prayer in the legislature’s upper chamber about suffering depression and her gambling addiction. She tweeted a video of what she said from the senate dais.

“As many of you know I’ve suffered with depression and a gambling addiction for many years; what you may not know is that over the last few years I’ve participated in successfully and received inpatient and outpatient treatment for depression and addiction and I’ve been active in a robust recovery program only because of God’s grace,” she said during the remarks which lasted several minutes.

Peterson went on to say what she was fighting was serious.

“I want you to know that this addiction and this disease is insidious, many people suffer from it,” said Peterson. “It took a long time for me to come to this point to have the courage to really address the issue but with God’s blessing I’m sober, I’ve been off the bet as we call it in the Gamblers Anonymous Program that I participate in.”

Since 1999, Peterson had been in the Louisiana legislature, first in the state House of Representatives and then the senate.

She issued her resignation announcement on Twitter Friday afternoon.

“Since 1999, I’ve had the privilege to serve as a member of the Louisiana

Legislature offering passionate and vigorous advocacy on behalf of the people of

this great state. I am hopeful that my decades of service have had a positive

impact on the lives of those for whom I have fought. I truly believe I have helped

to advance our beloved state forward. I am proud of my years of service in Baton

Rouge and sincerely thank my constituents for giving me the opportunity to

represent their interests. I am also very grateful for all of the personal and

professional support I have received from my colleagues, legislative staff,

advocates, friends and family.

As I’ve previously shared, I have personally struggled with depression and a

gambling addiction for the entirety of my legislative career; in fact, it has been

close to 30 years. At this time, I must place all of my energy on my own mental

health and personal well-being, and therefore have tendered my resignation

effective immediately.

Today, I am truly blessed to have the things that are most important in life: a

loving relationship with my God and my family. I will be focused on my recovery

and will continue to address those challenges resulting from my addiction. It is my

intention to continue my service in the months and years to come in an area that

will help others avoid the devastation, guilt, shame and pain of this insidious

disease.

I humbly ask for prayers and support as I continue my journey of recovery and

redemption. God Bless the State of Louisiana.”

Some of Peterson’s senate colleagues told FOX 8 News that they had no idea she would resign.

Robert Collins, Ph.D. is a Dillard University political analyst.

“I think it comes as a surprise to all of the political observers, in the state, while it was well known that she had a gambling addiction and that she has had struggles in the past it was understood or it was believed by most of us that she had it under control and that everything was okay with her and with her family,” said Collins.

Collins further said, “While we don’t know the exact event that precipitated her decision today, you know, obviously she felt remaining in the Senate would be a distraction to her recovery and that it was more important for her to focus on her health and recovery and her political career at this particular time.”

FOX 8 asked him whether Peterson could make a political comeback.

“I think that’s up to her, of course, this was going to be her last term in the Senate anyway because she’s term-limited, so she’s simply cutting her final term a little, off a little early. I wouldn’t say she’s done, she’s still popular in her district,” said Collins.

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