Harford County Del. Donna Stifler will step down when her term ends in early 2015 after health issues made it too difficult for her to continue serving in office, she announced Thursday.
"It's not something that I want to do, but I had to do it," an emotional Stifler said Thursday afternoon.
Stifler, 48 and a resident of Forest Hill, was elected to the House of Delegates in 2006. She is a Republican and represents District 35A, which covers the northern and western portions of Harford County.
She announced in a press release Thursday that she is battling fibromyalgia, a condition that involves "widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues," according to a description posted on the Mayo Clinic's website.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but it can be treated with medication, plus exercise and measures to control stress, according to the Mayo Clinic.
"I strongly believe that the citizens of Harford County deserve vigorous and energetic representation in Annapolis," Stifler stated in the press release. "It breaks my heart that I am unable to meet that standard. Accordingly, after consultation with my family and my doctors, I have decided that I will not seek reelection to the House of Delegates in 2014."
She said in an interview that the chronic pain of fibromyalgia is "exhausting."
"I'm always in pain, and sometimes the pain is worse than others, but it's always there," she explained.
Stifler said she plans to finish out her term, and get better.
"It's up to God," she said, regarding her future. "I'm just going to follow His lead."
Stifler said she had not served in an elected office before she went to Annapolis. The wife and mother of two daughters, ages 17 and 20, taught fifth grade at Mountain Christian School, which is affiliated with Mountain Christian Church in Joppa.
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Stifler said she had been involved with her church and various volunteer organizations before running for office.
She said her decision grew out of a discussion with her husband about "spiritual gifts."
She said her husband told her that her gifts are service and leadership.
"I love my job, serving the people, serving my constituents and just being a little part of their lives has just been the best," Stifler said.
She said the experience of being in Annapolis was "humbling; I loved it."
She noted the politics could be "frustrating" at times.
"There was adjustment at home a little bit, but everybody stepped up to the plate," she said. "My girls learned a lot."