NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- It's the end of an era in North Little Rock.
North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays, the longest-serving mayor in the city's history, will not seek re-election in 2012.
He has been mayor since 1989.
In a recent interview, Mayor Hays told THV he was "considering" retirement, but had not made a final decision. Hays said he would make that determination after spending the holidays with his family.
On Monday, he made the official announcement.
In the mayor's own words, he is quote, "not hanging up the cleats, but looking for a different locker room to put them in."
On Tuesday afternoon, THV had an in-depth interview with Mayor Hays who just turned 65 last weekend.
"I never thought being at City Hall for this length of time would be in my resume. But it's time. It's been a good run. It's not over with yet. And I feel good about what we've been able to do," Mayor Hays said.
Looking back over 23 years, the mayor cites a number of accomplishments during his tenure including: the Verizon Arena, Dickey-Stephens Ball Park, but particularly Central Arkansas Water.
"The unification of those two water systems, and what I feel like they're going to mean to the long-term future of Central Arkansas is astronomical," Mayor Hays said.
But among the disappointments: the recent loss of the North Little Rock sales tax, something the mayor describes as "painful."
"It's painful because of all the things that I was looking forward to at least starting," the mayor added.
But is a higher office in Patrick Hays' future?
Regarding the speculation he may seek a seat in the Second Congressional District for the U-S House of Representatives.
He said he doubts it, but cites his frustration with the federal government.
"I am so frustrated and fed up by what is going on in Washington. You almost feel like you have to get up there and shake those people and say, 'You've got kids, you've got grandkids, straighten up and find a way to make things happen. Instead of recognizing there's another election you ought to be worried about, there's a country you ought to be worried about,'" Mayor Hays said.
But again, he reiterated he has no plans at this time to seek a higher office.
Regarding one item Hays hopes to see to fruition this year: a World War II vessel, the U-S-S Hoga, becoming the newest addition to the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.
The plan is to have the vessel docked in North Little Rock this summer.
The vessel, beneficial during the attack on Pearl Harbor, would sit alongside the USS Razorback which was used during the Japanese surrender. Therefore, the two vessels would serve as bookends to World War II.
Exclusively on todaysthv.com, we've provided the entire interview:
Part 1: (http://on.kthv.com/wpQ1cD)
Part 2: (http://on.kthv.com/AzsHhs)