Thursday night, District 12B Del. Liz Bobo bid an at-times emotional farewell to her 38-year career in public service with the last of her community town hall meetings at Kahler Hall in Columbia.
Bobo, a Columbia Democrat, has represented the county in some capacity since 1976, when she was appointed to the Board of Appeals. She later served as a County Council member from 1977 to 1986, as Howard County executive from 1986 to 1990 and as a state delegate since 1995.
Bobo said she was at ease with her decision to retire after 19 years in Annapolis.
"It hasn't been sad, it hasn't been upsetting, until I started getting ready for tonight," she told the crowd of about 125 constituents, friends and local politicians who turned out for the town hall.
The delegate briefed the crowd on important issues before the legislature today -- among them, the minimum wage, lobbying and campaign finance rules, corporate taxation and the stormwater fee -- and reflected upon some of the legislative milestones that had marked her career. She said she was particularly proud of several progressive victories in recent years, including a repeal of the death penalty in the state and passage of a marriage equality bill and the DREAM Act.
"I’ve had some significant accomplishments, in my opinion, I’ve had some disappointments and I’ve had no regrets," she said.
At the end of her question and answer session, the crowd gave Bobo a standing ovation.
Bobo closed out the night with a tribute video to her grandson Zach Lederer, whose "Zaching" pose -- arms flexed after awakening from brain surgery -- went viral in 2012. Lederer entered hospice care last month.
Then, with the help of some musician friends on the guitar and harmonica, Bobo led the room in a singalong to folk singer Pete Seeger's classic, "If I Had a Hammer."
She said she and her husband would continue to live in Columbia in retirement.
"We don't want to live anywhere else," she said.