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Del. Maggie McIntosh: I will retire next year — with gratitude | GUEST COMMENTARY

Rep. Maggie McIntosh, D-Baltimore City, applauds in the Maryland House of Delegates chamber in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, the first day of the state's 2019 legislative session. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Rep. Maggie McIntosh, D-Baltimore City, applauds in the Maryland House of Delegates chamber in Annapolis, Md., Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, the first day of the state's 2019 legislative session. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Patrick Semansky / AP)

We are now preparing to begin the last session of our four-year term in the Maryland General Assembly. At the end of this term, I will have served 30 years and been successfully elected seven times to the Maryland House of Delegates. However, my name will not be on the ballot next year. After careful thought and personal reflection, I am looking forward to retiring from the House of Delegates at the end of 2022. Family, friends and community will get my full attention.

The motive for writing this letter is to express how grateful I am to have served in this position. To Baltimore residents: There really are no words to thank you for the honor and privilege to serve you. Your support will always fill my heart. The entire time I served in public office I have lived in a Baltimore neighborhood, Tuscany Canterbury. These neighbors and friends have been the backbone of my success.

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During my tenure I have worked with pillars of our democracy in Maryland. My first chairman was Howard “Pete” Rawlings. My first subcommittee chair was Nancy Kopp, who also became our state treasurer, and I had other colleagues who left their mark on Maryland, such as Elijah Cummings. I have served under four speakers, and three appointed me to leadership positions. Cas Taylor named me the first woman majority leader; Michael Erin Busch named me as Environmental Matters chair and, later, first woman to lead the Appropriations Committee as chair. And now I continue in my Appropriations position with Speaker Adrienne Jones, the first woman and first African American person to hold that position. To sum it up, I have had a great ride and incredible opportunities, and I have witnessed great change.

I do want to share a few highlights from incredible moments that I believe have made our state great: passing the Dream Act, the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, Climate Change Act, expanding health care, and eliminating the death penalty. In the past two years, I was privileged to play a role in passing major K-12 education funding with both the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (Kirwan) and the Built to Learn Act. Maryland students, especially those with the most need, will benefit from our work. I must also recognize the incredibly talented and dedicated staff that helped with budget and policy guidance. The Maryland legislature has some of the nation’s best. Finally, last year Speaker Jones led us in passing needed police reform and other measures to make Maryland a more just state while we worked with the Senate and Administration to guide us through the pandemic — helping businesses and families alike.

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One always looks back on a career and asks the question: Did I make a difference? For me, the answer is yes. I was the first openly gay member of the Maryland General Assembly. In 2000, I had a very public “coming out” that will always be one of the most important moments of my life. There was tremendous public support, notes from parents with LGBTQ children thanking me, and most importantly, a subsequent wave of openly gay members who were elected in their own right. Together, along with many progressive colleagues, ACLU, Equality Maryland, and the leadership of Speaker Mike Busch and Gov. Martin O’Malley, we made same sex marriage law in Maryland. Thousands of same sex couples, including my wife and me, are now married with full rights provided under our laws. It is with gratitude that I served with so many who wanted to bring this civil rights change to Maryland.

I will leave the House of Delegates with deep appreciation for my colleagues and am inspired by the talented young leaders stepping forward. I am so honored to have been a part of making policy that has and will continue to change Maryland for the better.

To my colleagues, my staff and especially my constituents: Thank you.

Del. Maggie McIntosh (maggie.mcintosh@house.state.md.us) is chair of the House Appropriations Committee and a member of the Baltimore City Delegation.

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