NORTH EAST — As Delegate David Rudolph (D-Cecil) prepares to leave the Maryland General Assembly on Jan. 13, he is filled with many happy memories, gratitude to those he served and hope to continue with public service in some way.
Rudolph lost his bid for re-election to a sixth term in the House of Delegates in November, but he’s been spending recent weeks helping constituents solve problems, while trying to tie up loose ends.
“I’ll be leaving office soon, but I’m going to continue to take calls until my last day,” Rudolph said.
Of course, Rudolph admits, he wouldn’t have been able to do as much as he did without the support of his legislative assistant for the last 20 years — Eileen Winer.
Winer set up appointments, returned countless emails and phone calls on Rudolph’s behalf, in addition to helping him do research for legislation. She commuted daily from Cecil County to Annapolis during the 90-day session and staffed his local office in downtown Rising Sun during the interim.
Not all legislative issues can be solved quickly, and the most complicated ones can take multiple years to resolve.
That’s why Rudolph is disappointed he has to leave some business unfinished.
“We are so close to resolving this regional rail issue, for one thing,” he said, indicating the 20-mile rail gap in Cecil County has to be the first priority before regional rail can extend to Newark or Wilmington, Del.
“I’m more optimistic now than ever before that it will happen,” said Rudolph.
He also thinks about Bainbridge’s future. It’s a project he’s been involved with since his first term in Annapolis, when he wrote the legislation that formed the Bainbridge Development Corporation, an entity to handle to redevelopment of the 1,250-acre site.
As a pro-business Democrat, Rudolph often tried to help businesses solve problems and flourish in Cecil County. He did the same thing for many non-profits.
“I view bond bills as an economic development tool,” Rudolph said.
Over the last 20 years as delegate, Rudolph has managed to find state funding to help Calvert Park, Cecil County Breeders’ Fair, Union Hospital Birthing Center, Stone House at Elk Landing, Tome School, Perryville Town Pier, Rodgers Tavern, Plumpton Park Zoo, Jacob Tome Gas House, 4-H building at Fair Hill, Family Services, a dedicated chemist to analyze seized drugs for Cecil County, Boys & Girls Club and a shore erosion project in North East.
“He’ll be missed terribly,” said Scott Holland, owner of i-lighting, located in Principio Business Park.
Holland said Rudolph put people and issues first — not politics.
“He saw problems and figured out a way to fix them,” Holland said, noting that Rudolph helped him nearly 10 years ago when he was starting a business in his basement and has continued to help him with business-related issues.
“Delegate Rudolph also helped residents of Whitaker Woods, where I live, get public water when our wells went dry,” he said.
“I admire him tremendously, he’s a good person,” Holland added. “His agenda was taking care of others.”
Nick Lacovaro, who owns Plumpton Park Zoo with his wife, Cheryl, met Rudolph for the first time right after they purchased the zoo, but hadn’t re-opened it yet.
“He wanted to meet with us,” Lacovaro said. “He’s been a great supporter ever since. It was his idea to get a bond bill for the giraffe house, and we had to raise enough funds to match the $100,000 grant.”
“We saw how well respected he is in Annapolis when we went to testify on the bond bill,” said Lacovaro, who also noted Cecil’s loss of Sen. Nancy Jacobs, R-Cecil/Harford, who chose not to run. “It’s a double-blow to Cecil County to lose all that seniority and respect at once.”
Rudolph firmly believes that not all problems require legislation.
While working his way to vice-chairman of one of the standing committees in the House of Delegates, he learned that some things could be accomplished through the budget, amendments or regulations. While not as glamorous as getting a bill passed, Rudolph found out these tactics worked to solve problems or avoid problems, at times.
He served on the House Ways & Means Committee when he first came to Annapolis before he was switched to House Governments & Operations Committee and finally to House Economic Matters, where he has been vice-chairman since 2007.
He also advocated for public safety, health and education during his tenure.
Danny DeMarinis, president of Northeastern Maryland University Research Park, described Rudolph as “a consummate public servant and a champion of education.”
He credits Rudolph for establishing task forces and advisory boards that have advanced higher education in the Cecil and Harford regions, such as the Northeastern Maryland Higher Education Center.
“An example of his contributions to Cecil County is a grant he got that provided a modern, efficient heating system at Fair Hill Nature Center,” DeMarinis said, noting this helped thousands of students.
Rudolph’s fingerprints are indelibly left in Cecil County, some resulting in permanent structures; such as the University of Maryland Dental School in Perryville and West Cecil Health Center in Conowingo, or rip-rap at the North East Community Park.
Many of Rudolph’s colleagues in Annapolis called him “The Principal” because of his educational background or perhaps, the way he eyed committee members during a hearing.
He developed many personal relationships with fellow lawmakers and staff members while serving.
“I have wonderful memories that I’ll keep for the rest of my life,” Rudolph said.
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