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Frosh and Kopp served Maryland through intellect and integrity | COMMENTARY

In the insular ecosphere of the Maryland State House, the delegation from Montgomery County has stood out. Delegates and senators from the state’s largest subdivision tend to have a telltale streak of do-goodism. They are more likely to be policy wonks or ex-PTA presidents or involved in public advocacy than some of their peers in Annapolis, and many a legislative leader or governor has found them more than a bit annoying for this reason. They may be reliably progressive, but they aren’t necessarily given to deal making or backroom negotiations.

This week, two longtime Montgomery County politicians who exemplify these qualities announced they are retiring, and attention should be paid. On Monday, Nancy K. Kopp made it known that she is stepping down from her position as state treasurer at year’s end. The 77-year-old has held that post since 2002; she spent an additional 27 years representing her county’s District 16 in the Maryland House of Delegates. And on Thursday, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, who, at 75, has another 15 months in office, declared he would not be running for reelection next year. Prior to his election as attorney general in 2014, he served in the state legislature from the same district in Montgomery County beginning in 1987, first in the House and later the Senate.

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Most Marylanders have little personal experience with either. Mr. Frosh is surely the better known as the state’s chief law enforcement officer. Mr. Frosh won reelection in 2018 with 64.8% of the vote, which was more than nine points better than Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford. He is surely well liked by most, with the possible exception of Donald Trump supporters who found him a pain in their favorite president’s agenda (Mr. Frosh sued the Republican president for, among other things, violating the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution by accepting payments from foreign and domestic officials through his family businesses).

Ms. Kopp is likely best known for her often dissenting, but least speechified, votes on the Board of Public Works. The treasurer, chosen by state lawmakers, has one of three votes (along with Governor Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot) on the panel that has final say on state spending — and other, often-crucial administrative matters.

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None of that tells you much about them, however. Allow us to fill out their records: They are thoughtful and reliably respectful of process and opposing political views. They are deeply knowledgeable in their fields of study: Within the legislature Ms. Kopp was regarded as expert in state spending, Mr. Frosh as the leading voice on environmental issues. And neither is given to the kind of partisan braying that passes for leadership these days in the halls of Congress. The term “career politician” is often used derogatorily; they demonstrate why it should not be. Their experience in elected office informs their service. They don’t require political talking points, they write policy. You want an education? Engage Ms. Kopp on public borrowing or Mr. Frosh on the unfairness of cash-bail. And make sure you have time on your hands.

They are also two people who took an active interest in Baltimore and the complex challenges that beset Maryland’s largest city. With the possible exception of the $1.5 billion State Center redevelopment project , which Ms. Kopp voted against (as did the governor and comptroller), and Mr. Frosh’s opposition to using lottery proceeds to finance a downtown stadium for the Ravens when he was in the legislature, the two have been allies to Charm City when they did not necessarily have to be as Democratic Party clout shifted toward the D.C. suburbs over the years.

As wistful as these thoughts may be, we are not disappointed by their decisions to retire. There is a need for fresh ideas and faces in elected offices of all kinds. We hope the next treasurer and attorney general will prove as qualified, as hardworking, as honest and as decent. Whomever they may be, they will certainly have big, if well-worn and probably sensible, shoes to fill.

Baltimore Sun editorial writers offer opinions and analysis on news and issues relevant to readers. They operate separately from the newsroom.

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