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For Delegates, A Fitting Time To Remember Jane Lawton

JANE E. LAWTON (Family Photo)

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By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 17, 2008

The state House of Delegates convened last week for the new legislative session with an emotional tribute to Jane E. Lawton, the Montgomery County delegate who collapsed of an apparent heart attack and died in late November.

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Maryland's political establishment, gathering Jan. 9 in Annapolis to begin the 2008 session, paused to mourn the sudden death of a fellow politician and friend.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) remembered Lawton, a Democrat, as an accomplished legislator who brought energy to her work at the State House.

"From the first time Jane came to Annapolis, she was effervescent and had that Midwestern drawl and twinkle in her eye," Busch said during a tribute ceremony on the House floor.

Del. Maggie L. McIntosh (D-Baltimore), who chairs the Environmental Matters Committee, on which Lawton served, said Lawton stood out from her colleagues as a passionate advocate for the environment.

"When Jane Lawton came to the House of Delegates over two years ago, it was evident right from the start she was of the House of Delegates," McIntosh said. "She left a profound, lasting mark on public policy in Maryland."

Lawton, who was 63 when she died, was appointed to the House of Delegates in 2005 and won election a year later, the highest vote-getter in District 18, which includes Kensington and parts of Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Silver Spring and Wheaton. Lawton was a mayor of Chevy Chase and worked as Montgomery County's cable administrator.

McIntosh announced that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will invite people to plant a tree in Lawton's memory both in Annapolis and in her home district.

State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), who also represents District 18, said that Lawton's death "remains very sad." Madaleno described her as an "exciting, warm, vivacious, attractive woman."

"She defied the expectations of the world she was born into, a small town in Oklahoma, and in doing so she changed the world," Madaleno said.

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) told an anecdote from last fall's frantic special legislative session, when he called Lawton at her desk on the House floor to discuss the votes they needed to pass a particular bill.

"I said, 'Delegate Lawton, this is your governor,' and she said, 'Oh, no!'," O'Malley said, adding that Lawton was a strong backer of his policies.

"I said, 'Jane, how does that make me feel?'

"She said, 'I know if you're calling me, we're in trouble.' "

Lawton's husband, Steve Lawton, addressed delegates during the tribute, telling her colleagues that she "adored and truly loved public service."

"Equally important to Jane were the friendships she made to many of you in her all-too-short time here," he said.

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