Bowie delegate leaves public health impact -- Gazette.Net



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Bowie resident and state delegate James Hubbard spent 22 years fighting for public-health-related legislation and will be passing the torch to others in the state legislature after deciding not to run for re-election this year.

Hubbard was honored by the Maryland Sierra Club on June 29 for his leadership on environmental issues and his sponsorship of bills like the Healthy Air Act that regulated the power plant emissions and is described by many lawmakers as one of the strongest policies of its kind.

Hubbard, 66, said he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease seven years ago and that his decision not to run again was influenced by the desire to spend more time with his family and 3-year-old grandson.

“I’m not really retiring, just not running again,” Hubbard said. “Twenty-two years is a long time.”

Baird Straughan, chair of the Maryland Sierra Club’s executive committee, said Hubbard was a natural choice for the lifetime leadership award.

“[Hubbard has demonstrated] more than two decades of real leadership on bills that protect the environment and our health...and he speaks with a common sense approach that all parties can hear,” he said. “It was a unanimous choice at the level of the executive committee.”

Hubbard, a former assistant sheriff for Prince George’s County and founder of the Family Crisis Center of Prince George’s County in Brentwood, said he believes everything comes back to public health.

“I think the government has an opportunity to make a healthier state, a better workforce and better educated citizens. If we keep them healthier, that will come,” he said. “It all starts with health — public health.”

Hubbard said the legislation he is most proud of includes the Healthy Air Act and the creation of the Children’s Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council, which identifies environmental hazards to children’s health.

Bowie resident Gary Allen, volunteer chairman of the city’s environmental committee, said Hubbard’s work had a far-reaching effect that impacted people in Bowie and across the state.

“He’s one of the most progressive legislators in Maryland and he’s been very active,” Allen said. “We’re going to miss Jim.”

Allen said he believes Bowie-area residents continued to re-elect the delegate because of his work ethic and transparency.

“I think it’s because of his openness, his leadership and the fact that he’s willing to work hard to get issues passed,” he said.

While Hubbard said he feels like he has made the world a cleaner, safer place for his grandson, he also said there is also a lot more to be done.

“We’re still way behind in reference to what we should be doing to keep people from getting sicker as they get older,” he said. “If I were to say there’s a legacy to my work, it’s that other people need to carry it on. To my friends [continuing to serve] in the legislature: keep an open mind and an open heart.”

eeastman@gazette.net