Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Tribute to Jane Lawton

Jane Lawton was not only a great state delegate. She was also a warm, wonderful person and no one who knew her will ever forget her.

I first met Jane at the Wheaton Arts District kickoff last summer. At that time, we were launching our guerrilla campaign for a new Forest Glen Metro entrance and we were busily accosting every politician we could find. But Jane was different from everyone else. She was funny, curious, chatting, laughing and utterly without pretension. And she didn’t even mention she was running for office despite the intensity of the campaign season (and the nearby presence of several opponents). Can you imagine that?

But Jane was full of surprises. When ten of us showed up at a state hearing to testify about the horrible Georgia-Forest Glen intersection, Jane actually cheered us on. She told us, “I love you guys! Keep it up!” Far from retreating from us, she embraced us and treated us as if we were her kids.

Others will comment on her political career, including her apprenticeship with U.S. Speaker of the House Carl Albert, her long service as mayor of Chevy Chase, her dominance of the 2006 District 18 delegate election and her remarkable effectiveness on environmental legislation. It is a great shame for Maryland environmentalists that she only served through two general sessions because she had a lot more to offer on protections for the Bay.

But the Jane I will never forget is the sweet, beautiful lady with a great big laugh, a great big smile and a great big hug. Sure, Jane liked to talk about politics, policy issues and the rapacious cable companies she chased in her day job. But she also liked to talk about food, her neighborhood, what was happening in my life (or anyone else she was talking to), and especially her daughters. Jane loved her daughters and could not stop talking about how proud she was of them. She was a sheer delight to be with. Any room Jane entered was a happier place once she walked in. If you were lucky enough to know Jane, you trusted her and you loved her. And she loved us in return.

There will be other state delegates in District 18. But there will never be another Jane Lawton.

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