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Del. Jim Gilchrist (D-Montgomery), a low-key legislator whose father also served in the General Assembly, has decided not to seek re-election next year.
First elected in 2006, Gilchrist chairs the House Environment and Transportation Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Agriculture, where he serves alongside another District 17 lawmaker, Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery), the House committee’s leader.
In an interview, the lawmaker said he agonized over whether to seek a fifth term, ultimately deciding that — at age 56 — “maybe now it’s time.”
“It was the most emotional decision. It took months,” he said. “I talked to more people that I haven’t talked to in years.”
Gilchrist said his decision was not influenced by Sen. Cheryl Kagan’s months-long efforts to find someone to challenge him in next June’s primary.
“It’s still not clear what’s going on there,” he said. “That’s not a factor.”
Gilchrist said he was proudest of his work to preserve agricultural and forested land.
A former Montgomery County staffer in Annapolis who went on to work for the Department of Legislative Services, Gilchrist said he worked the last 24 consecutive sessions in one capacity or another.
His father, Charles W. Gilchrist (D) served two terms as county executive and one in the state Senate. Jim said he got his introduction to politics at age 9, door-knocking and handing out campaign literature at Rockville’s July 4 fireworks show for his father.
Kagan, a fellow District 17 Democrat, recruited Joe Vogel, a 24-year-old party activist, to run against Gilchrist months ago.
Vogel, whose family immigrated to the U.S. from Uruguay when he was three, worked on the Cory Booker and Hillary Clinton presidential campaigns and founded a non-profit that provides virtual tutoring to students across the country.
Jim Gilchrist’s low-key manner made him the subject of unkind political chatter within the State House, but Barve praised him as a knowledgeable and hard-working lawmaker who will be missed.
“He’s terrific,” Barve said.
Gilchrist said he will serve out the remaining 16 months of his term.