Former County Executive Elizabeth Bobo, one of Howard County's most popular vote-getters until she was upset in a re-election bid three years ago, wants to return to local politics.
Ms. Bobo, 49, will run for the House of Delegates in the newly created District 12B, which includes most of west Columbia and parts of Ellicott City and Baltimore County.
Her announcement at her west Columbia home yesterday afternoon ended months of speculation about her political future.
"It feels good to know what I want to do," Ms. Bobo said. People have been speaking to her about running for various offices, she said, but she has been leaning toward the House of Delegates race since meeting with Democratic Party officials in July.
"I made up my mind sometime in August," she said. The race "fit in well with my personal life at this time. That's mostly what the decision focused on."
Ms. Bobo's 89-year-old mother became ill this summer and is bedridden. Ms. Bobo and her two sisters are providing round-the-clock care.
Campaigning for the legislature and serving there would allow her to devote more time to her mother, her new grandchild and her husband than would campaigning for and winning a more time-consuming office, Ms. Bobo said.
The legislative campaign "would not be easy," Ms. Bobo said, "but is much less intense than the county executive from a campaign and job point of view. It was a seven-day workweek, a full-time commitment."
"Maybe some people wanted me to spend less time," she said with a chuckle. "I missed the job [of county executive] a lot, but there was real blessing in having time for introspection. I didn't take that time before. I'm having a good, peaceful, happy time right now, which is great."
Ms. Bobo married former county Councilman Lloyd Knowles, a long time friend and political ally, Sunday. They will be touring Europe by rail for the next three weeks.
On the eve of her wedding, she ran a 10,000-meter race in a little under 74 minutes.
"My goal was 75," she said. "It was a major accomplishment for me."
Running for health and getting physical exercise was not in Ms. Bobo's repertoire four years ago. "I've changed -- who hasn't? -- but I'm still not a shrinking violet," she said. "At least not in this life. Maybe in the next one. I'll also be petite," she said with a smile.
One of the things she learned while serving 18 months as deputy secretary of human resources for Gov. William Donald Schaefer is that it is really important to have her own political voice, Ms. Bobo said.
"I really like to speak out myself on the issues," she said. "One of my skills is that I recognize issues that are important and motivate other people to work on them. I missed doing that."
The issues she will be stressing in the campaign are the same ones she espoused when running for executive. "Environmental issues have always been important to me and always will be," she said. Health and welfare reform, support for public education and developing a strong economy are also high on her list.
On the surface, Ms. Bobo appears to have a huge advantage over her political rivals. She has more than $20,000 left over from the last election, she has instant name recognition, and she knows the district well, having lived there 28 1/2 years.
"Running for the House of Delegates feels really good to me and is not something I'm settling for," she said. "I've been county executive, served at the local level [on the council] and at the state [as a deputy secretary], got an entirely different view. This would pretty much round out the picture. I would really like to be able to do that."
Since the legislature is in session from January to April, said Ms. Bobo, an attorney, she is considering a law practice involving "mediation kind of work in all kinds of areas."
Two other Democrats, James M. Kraft and Rosemary Mortimer, have announced plans to run for the seat.