Every 50 years or so, it's nice to change faces in Annapolis.
That's what will occur next year when Dundalk Sen. Norman Stone finishes his 13th term representing Baltimore County and retires from elective politics.
Stone will be missed, as will many of the other elected legislators from Baltimore County who won't be returning.
There will be more than the usual turnover. Some of the county's most conservative and moderate voices, including Stone, will be leaving, including Dels. Jimmy Malone and Steve De Boy of Catonsville-Arbutus and Emmett Burns of Woodlawn-Randallstown.
Others not seeking reelection are campaigning for higher office. Del. John Olszewski Jr., whose father-namesake is on the County Council, is the odds-on favorite to succeed Stone in the Maryland Senate.
Del. John Cardin of Owings Mills-Reisterstown is running for state attorney general.
Meanwhile, Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam of Woodlawn-Randallstown has decided to challenge incumbent Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell of Baltimore City in a re-drawn district that is two-thirds in the county and just one-third in the city, giving Nathan-Pulliam an edge.
Another conservative delegate, 40-year veteran A. Wade Kach of North County is leaving the House of Delegates so he can run against County Councilman Todd Huff, whose record was marred by a drunk driving conviction. This district includes North County and Reisterstown.
That's a lot of turnover to absorb. The loss of Malone and DeBoy will be especially painful. Malone, a retired firefighter, was vice-chairman of the House Environmental Matters Committee and a voice for moderation in leadership ranks. De Boy, a retired police officer, sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee where he can influence budget amendments that benefit Baltimore County.
New faces in the Annapolis delegation may bring added enthusiasm and eagerness, but that won't make up for the loss of decades of experience in navigating the tricky channels of the State House.
In many ways, Stone is a throwback to a bygone era. He got his start in 1962 when he was asked to run for the House by Michael "Iron Mike" Birmingham, the eastside political boss who went on to become county executive after voters approved home rule.
Stone served a single term in the House; he soon will be marking his 48th year in the Senate. Ever-friendly and polite, Stone is an ardent supporter of organized labor and reflects the conservative nature of his district's older residents.
The difference between Stone, 78, and Olszewski, 31, can be seen in their environmental votes last session, as judged by the League of Conservation Voters. Stone got it "right," according to the group, 40 percent of the time; Olszewski registered 71 percent.
More changes in the county's delegation will occur as we get closer to 2014's June primary. Already it's clear the next group of county lawmakers in Annapolis will have a different look.
Reisterstown resident Barry Rascovar is a political columnist whose writings can be viewed at http://www.politicalmaryland.com. His email address is brascovar@hotmail.com.

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