Nancy K. Kopp, Maryland’s longtime state treasurer, announced Monday that she plans to retire from politics by the end of the year after more than four decades of public service.
Since 2002, Kopp has served as one the state’s top financial officials, overseeing the government’s finances, including investments and pension funds. The treasurer also serves on the Board of Public Works, a three-member body that approves state contracts and activities on state-owned lands and in public waterways.
Kopp, 77, said in a statement Monday that she plans to spend more time with her family and travel extensively.
“Serving as Maryland’s Treasurer has been a great privilege, as well as a terrific challenge,” Kopp wrote in the statement. “I have cherished the opportunity to serve and believe that, working together, we have made a real contribution to the benefit of our state and fellow citizens.”
The state treasurer is appointed to the post by the General Assembly, with state lawmakers voting every four years on their choice. Kopp has won every election since 2002. Her most recent election came in 2019, and her term was due to run through 2023.
Kopp has had her most visible role on the Board of Public Works, where, as the legislature’s representative, she serves alongside Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot. The board meets twice-monthly to approve state spending, a task that at times can veer from routine to dramatic.
In recent years, fights have played out before the Board of Public Works on issues ranging from school air conditioning to treatment for midges. More recently, Kopp has expressed frustration at state agencies that routinely submit contracts for board approval well past deadlines.
And Franchot and Hogan often have had an alliance on the board, despite their different party affiliations — leading to several 2-to-1 votes over Kopp, including the August approval of the next step in a controversial plan to have a private company build toll lanes on highways in the Washington suburbs. Kopp said more information was needed about the environmental effects of the plan and whether the partnership with a private firm was really the best financial choice for the state.
When Kopp sought reappointment in 2019, some members of the Legislative Black Caucus said she hadn’t done enough to support minority-owned businesses seeking state contracts and investment deals. Kopp met with caucus members and pledged to be attentive to their concerns. Still, she lost some votes, including two dozen that went to a Black lawmaker from Baltimore County.
House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, praised Kopp for keeping Maryland’s “fiscal house in order” and called her the “driving force” behind the state’s strong credit ratings and stable pension plans.
Kopp, Jones said, “did all of this without fanfare or celebration — even when others took credit for her great work over two decades.”
”As my colleague and friend, I have relied on her great counsel over the years,” Jones said. “I wish her and her family all the best as she begins this new chapter. The entire state of Maryland owes her a debt of gratitude.”
Hogan issued a statement saying that it would be hard for him to imagine a Board of Public Works meeting without Kopp.
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“With the second-longest tenure of any treasurer in state history, Nancy will leave an incredible legacy of strong financial stewardship, which has helped assure our coveted AAA bond rating year after year,” Hogan said. “We have enjoyed a very cordial relationship, and I have always admired her commitment to the people of Maryland.”
Franchot, who also served alongside Kopp on the public works board and in the House of Delegates earlier, called the treasurer a “longtime friend.”
“She has earned her rightful place in history as one of our state’s most pre-eminent public servants,” Franchot said in a statement. “The lives of generations of Marylanders are better, our communities stronger, and our future brighter because of Nancy’s staunch commitment to a state she loves.”
It will be up to the General Assembly to appoint someone to fill the remainder of Kopp’s term once she officially steps down. An aide to Kopp said she won’t endorse anyone to succeed her.
Kopp came to the state treasurer position after a lengthy career as a state lawmaker, serving in the House of Delegates from 1975 until 2002. A Democrat, she represented a district in Montgomery County and served on the Appropriations Committee and as deputy majority leader and speaker pro tem, according to her official biography.
Serving as a lawmaker at a time when there were only a handful of women in state legislatures, Kopp is believed to be the first state lawmaker to give birth to a child while in office.
Before entering elected politics, Kopp worked for several years as a congressional staffer on Capitol Hill. Kopp is a graduate of Wellesley College and earned a master’s degree in government from the University of Chicago.