Delegate Galen Clagett is not planning to return to the Maryland State House after his term is up in three years.
"I can say unequivocally that I am not running for the House of Delegates again and I am not running for the state Senate," Clagett said Friday in his Frederick office.
Clagett, a 69-year-old Frederick Democrat, has served as a state delegate since 2003 and as a Frederick County commissioner from 1978 to 1986.
By 2014, the end of his term, he will have served for 12 years in the House.
"The only thing that's really constant in life is change, so I've just reached that point in life," he said.
Clagett, president and owner of Clagett Enterprises, said he wants to avoid being gone for the 90-day annual legislative session. He has had to be away from his wife, dogs and a business that operates in four states with 40 employees, placing a burden on all of them.
He has not ruled out seeking other offices, and said some of his friends in Annapolis have urged him to run for state comptroller. Should Frederick County pass a charter resolution changing the form of county government, Clagett said he would not run for county executive.
He said he feared his potential candidacy would dissuade voters from approving the charter when it comes to referendum.
"The charter's for the future of this county, and I've worked on this since 1966, trying to get home rule for this county and I don't want anything to get in the way of it," Clagett said. "So I can make this statement right now: I'm not going to run for county executive."
The only thing he's sure of is that it's time for a change, he said.
He said he also wanted to avoid a situation where he was in office too long, like U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, an 85-year-old Republican who recently announced he will run for an 11th term.
"I think it's really important, and maybe I'd send this message to Roscoe: You got to know when to say when," Clagett said.
Clagett has risen through the ranks in the House of Delegates. He is the chairman of the subcommittee in the House Appropriates Committee on public safety and administration. He also serves on a slew of other committees, including the capital budget, personnel and pension committees.
He has fought to make sure Frederick is included in the budget and for school construction funds for the county -- no small task when the mostly Republican delegation is not supporting the budget, he said.
Myrna Whitworth, president of the Frederick County Democratic State Central Committee, said Clagett is "Mr. Democrat of Frederick County" to many people.
"He's done a great job through all the years of representing Frederick, both on the county level and in Annapolis," Whitworth said. "He's been so much a part of the political scene in Frederick County over the years that I can't imagine what the political scene would be like without him."
She said she hoped he would aspire to another office, such as comptroller.
Clagett said he announced his retirement so early in his term to ensure the Democratic Party is ready to put forward a strong replacement candidate.
In the 2010 election, Democrats lost a seat with Delegate Sue Hecht's retirement, which she announced toward the end of her term. Delegate Patrick Hogan won that election.
"I like Sue Hecht, but I think what she did was unfortunate," Clagett said. "It didn't give the party a chance to get people lined up to run."
He doesn't know her plans, but Clagett said he hoped Alderwoman Carol Krimm would run for the seat. Krimm is Clagett's legislative aide, so he can't ask her what her plans are, he said.
"She's been at this for a lot of years. She knows the rules, she knows the players, and she's a highly committed, devoted person," Clagett said.
Whitworth said Democrats will be working to identify candidates and help them run for office. Redistricting will redraw Clagett's district, she said, so a lot will depend on that.
Clagett said he believed redistricting would ultimately result in a single third district with three delegates and a senator. Currently, District 3 is divided into a single-member district for 3B -- represented by Delegate Michael Hough, a Republican -- and District 3A, represented by Clagett and Hogan.
Clagett said he believed that shift could result in four Democratic lawmakers in Frederick County, which could change the way the area is viewed in Annapolis.
Although he believes he has made the right decision, Clagett said he would miss Annapolis.
"It's really difficult because of all of the friends that I have. I've made wonderful friends and worked for a wonderful friend. I think (House Speaker) Mike Busch is top-drawer," Clagett said.
Copyright 2011 The Frederick News-Post. All rights reserved.
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