"He was a good consensus builder and just a very reasonable individual," he said. "It will be a really significant loss."

Kasemeyer said he and Senate president Thomas V. Mike Miller lobbied Robey to reconsider his decision.

"Within any organization, you want to keep talented, quality people," Kasemeyer said. "He is a valued member because he is smart, reasonable, and understands the issues."

Robey acknowledged that choosing to retire was not an easy decision after discussing the possibility with his wife, Janet, over the last six to eight months.

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"Of course it was difficult," he said. "This [public service] is what I've done my entire life."

Robey plans on staying out of politics unless someone he supports asks for his assistance on the campaign trail.

Del. Guy Guzzone, a Columbia Democrat who co-chairs the Howard County Delegation with Robey, described his colleague as the type of lawmaker that you go to when you need to solve problems.

"He is one of the finest public servants that I've ever had the privilege to work with," he said.

Guzzone, a County Council member during Robey's eight years as County Executive, said it's hard to pinpoint one accomplishment of Robey's that stands out.

He acknowledged Robey's support of public safety and education, including support for school construction funds and the hiring of more teachers.

Robey made public education a priority during his administration, allocating funding for the construction of eight new schools and the renovations of others during his tenure as county executive.

"I think it proves itself today that education is probably one of the most important things we've done in the county," Robey said.

Guzzone said Robey's efforts as county executive laid the groundwork for the success Howard County is seeing today.

"He helped build what has become probably one of the greatest places to live, work, and learn in the country," he said.