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A fond farewell

Taylor is saying goodbye to Legislature

Taylor is saying goodbye to Legislature

January 06, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

He will run the consulting business out of his former delegate office on Pershing Street in Cumberland. Ethics laws bar him from lobbying for one year.

Taylor's life also will change in more mundane ways. No longer will he have a Maryland State Police trooper to protect him and chauffeur him across the state.

"I've gotta get used to driving again," he says.

Taylor is not giving up public service.

He says he will chair the Western Maryland Economic Development Task Force and the Governor's Flood Mitigation Task Force. He's interested in taking on a third unpaid appointment as a member of the Maryland Health Care Commission.

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Administration job?


A recent photo of Taylor shaking hands with Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. offers a glimpse of what might yet come: a job in the new Republican administration.

Although Taylor is a Democrat, he says bipartisan cooperation will be needed to prevent gridlock.

"If there is a contribution I can make for Gov. Ehrlich, I would be very open to that," he says.

Taylor, 68, served seven terms in the House of Delegates before he was defeated in November by Clear Spring Republican LeRoy E. Myers Jr.

As speaker, he witnessed some historic moments.

In the early 1990s, Jack Kent Cooke fought the Legislature to build a new Redskins stadium.

In 2000, President Clinton stood on the dais where Taylor had become so comfortable and became the first sitting president to address the Maryland General Assembly.

Taylor made history as the first speaker from Western Maryland in 100 years.

With the political winds in this part of the state blowing steadily to the right, Taylor said it's doubtful the state's mountainous region will see another statewide leader in the next 100 years.

"Facts are facts. If we're going to send all Republicans to a legislature dominated by and controlled by the other party, then don't expect to have a whole lot of clout," he says.

Western Maryland is politically disadvantaged because of its small population, lack of wealth and isolation from the power structure in the Baltimore-Washington area, Taylor says.

But Taylor, while he held the speaker's position, was able to overcome some of those obstacles.

"It's unfortunate that we couldn't hold onto that position of strength," he says.

Accomplishments


When asked about his greatest accomplishments, Taylor talks about issues of statewide importance, such as health care reform and transportation.

In Western Maryland, Taylor will probably be best remembered for bringing state projects such as Rocky Gap, Canal Place in downtown Cumberland and Interstate 68 to the area.

When he chaired the House Economic Matters Committee, Taylor helped pass legislation in the late 1980s that allowed Citicorp to expand its customer service center north of Hagerstown. The company is the county's largest private employer.

The law was fiercely opposed by some in the banking industry, who worried it would allow larger banks to swallow up the smaller community banks. History showed that trend already was well on its way nationwide.

"It's progress. Or at least that's what we call it," Taylor says.

Asked about his disappointments, Taylor thinks long and hard. His answer is characteristically philosophical.

"My biggest disappointment, or frustration, is our inability to share our vision for the future by using a positive approach rather than cooperation and looking for common ground," he says.

Taylor says he has always tried to look at the big picture when human nature dictated a tendency toward parochialism.

He would like to be remembered as someone who worked to build connections between his beloved mountain hometown and the rest of the state and the world.

"I would say I'd like to think that I've been someone who has cared deeply about overcoming the natural barriers and deficiencies of life in a distant, remote, geographically isolated area," he says.

Bipartisan praise


Taylor says he tried to work closely with the minority party.

"As I close my legislative book I believe I practiced a very, very high level of bipartisanship as speaker for the last nine years. I reached out constantly to the Republican minority," he says.

Incoming Minority Whip Del. Kenneth D. Schisler, R-Eastern Shore, agreed.

Knowing that his party was becoming more liberal than his district, Taylor tried to work with conservatives, Schisler said.

"Cas was a canary in the mine shaft, if you will, and he recognized it," he said.

Del. John Donoghue, D-Washington, praised Taylor's work.

"He's done a wonderful job. He'll be fine. I'm sure he'll do a great job whatever he does," Donoghue said.

His legislative career may be over, but Taylor won't be far from the action. He's planning to go to Annapolis this week to witness the opening of the legislative session from a different perspective.

His legacy may also be preserved by the construction of a new House office building getting under way this year.

"I probably have a Taylor building to look forward to," he says.

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