Carroll County Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, announced Tuesday he will forego running for any elected office once his term as commissioner expires in 2018 so he can focus on several issues he identified a crucial that he and the other commissioners will need to resolve over the next three years.
"We have some really big issues to tackle — school redistricting, school funding and solid waste — and I don't want these discussions lost in the political divide and debate," Howard said in an interview Tuesday. "We just need to get down to solving the big problems."
A law passed during the prior Board of Commissioners' term limited an individual to serving only two consecutive terms but put no restrictions on the number of total terms served. Howard was elected to his first term as commissioner in 2010 and won re-election in 2014.
"I'm not saying I'll never run for office again, but with other obligations and pursuits, we need to focus on depoliticizing these things and focus on getting them done," he said. "I'm not saying this is right for someone else but this is right for me."
His sole focus and interest will now be to leave Carroll better off than when he first took office, he said.
"Don't get me wrong, I love politics and working on campaigns, but at this point we have some really big discussions coming up and it gets harder and harder to not extract the politics from the policy," Howard said. "A very successful [term] could leave the county in good stead but a bad ending could mess it up."
Fellow Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4, who is also serving his second consecutive term, said Howard is a "very talented man" whose abilities he respects. Despite the two being at odds on many issues in past years, Rothschild said he and Howard "are now committed to working collaboratively with each other."
Rothschild has yet to decide if he will campaign for another elected office in 2018.
"I don't like politics," he said. "I've had a lot of people implore me to run for Congress, but I have not decided whether I want to sacrifice anymore of my life to politics."
Rothschild resides in Congressional District 8, which is represented by Democrat Chris Van Hollen. Van Hollen is running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 seeking to replace retiring Barbara Mikulski.
Though Rothschild admits any congressional race would be difficult to win, he said his disdain for the political gamesmanship that permeates government could entice him to run.
"I'm in politics for one reason: That's to defend this county and this country against out-of-control government," Rothschild said.