Maryland District 14 Senator Karen Montgomery announced on Dec. 4 that she will retire on Jan. 1 of next year upon the appointment of her successor. Montgomery, 80, has represented District 14–a diverse and expansive northeast sector of Montgomery County including Damascus, Olney, Burtonsville, Laytonsville, Sandy Spring and Ashton–since 2002 in the General Assembly. After serving two terms in the House of Delegates and two terms in the State Senate, she is finally stepping down due to recent issues with her eyesight.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller approved her official notice of resignation effective Jan. 1. “Senator Montgomery’s voice as an advocate for individuals with disabilities, for mental health, education, environment, women’s issues, equality and so much more have been integral to the Senate,” Miller said in a statement. “I have been proud to call her a colleague and friend.”
For the duration of her term, Montgomery plans to remain active, serve her constituents, and ensure that District 14 is not without state representation. The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee is in the process of naming her successor, a process that must be complete within 30 days after Montgomery’s official resignation.
Montgomery has expressed hope that her long-time colleague Del. Craig Zucker will be her replacement. “[Retirement] is a hard decision to make, but I’m reassured knowing that District 14 has an outstanding team representing us in Annapolis and that [Zucker] would be an excellent choice to finish my term in the State Senate,” Montgomery said in a statement. “We have fought hard to move Maryland forward, and I will continue that effort as an elected official until the day my successor is sworn in.”
During her lengthy tenure, Montgomery has been widely regarded as one of the most dedicated legislators in the State Senate and is well known for her progressive values in areas such as the environment, women’s rights and special education.
While a member of the General Assembly, Montgomery passed legislation to prohibit smoking in public places and served on the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committee in the Senate. She has also been a state leader in environmental preservation, renewable energy investments and consumer protection in food and other services.
In the 2015 session, she spearheaded efforts to further women’s rights by facilitating handling of untested rape kits. “I was so glad to hear of the work Montgomery has done for women’s health and rights,” Thomas S. Wootton High School senior Anna Cheng said. “I think the State Senate needs more representatives like her and I’m sorry to see her go.”
As the mother of an autistic son, Montgomery has also worked to expand services for the disabled and pushed reforms for greater special education access and equity.
As evidenced by the volume of laudatory posts on Montgomery’s Facebook page, she will be sorely missed by her constituents and colleagues. “During my time working with state legislators in high school, it was always a privilege to see, and in some cases work directly with, Senator Montgomery,” Thomas S. Wootton High School alumnus and student government advocate Ben Feshbach said. “I’m sorry to see that she’ll be leaving the Maryland State Senate, where her intrepid advocacy will be sorely missed.”
Although Montgomery’s departure is the third in recent months–as one delegate resigned and another passed away–the State Senate is sorry to see her go but confident that they will continue her policies and remember her for her fierce dedication in her absence.
Article by MoCo Student Staff Writer Catherine Yang of Wootton High School