Whether it was teaching children in the classroom or seeing to her constituents' needs as a delegate, Nancy Stocksdale spent a lifetime serving others. Now, after a 34-year career in the public school system and 25 years spent in government, Stocksdale is retiring.
Though mostly known as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing District 5A in Carroll County, Stocksdale, a Republican, said her preparation for political office began as a school teacher.
Before moving to Carroll County in 1984, she lived and worked in Baltimore County, teaching both middle- and high-school students, Stocksdale said.
The task and responsibility of teaching children, and learning to be comfortable around large groups, was vital to her success as a delegate, she said.
"Being able to speak to a bunch of kids helped me to speak to groups of adults," Stocksdale said. "When I went door to door early on, registering voters and asking for votes, all of that resulted from my training in the classroom."
She said her career in politics started as more of an accident. After Stocksdale moved to Carroll County, the majority of her friends still lived in Baltimore County. While reading the Carroll County Times, she noticed an advertisement for a luncheon with members of a county Republican club at Baugher's Country Restaurant in Westminster. Because she didn't know anyone, she thought this would be a good way to break the ice with her community, she said.
While at the luncheon, she met John Armacost, who served as county commissioner from 1982 to 1990.
"I was kind of embarrassed actually because I had been talking to him for more than an hour and didn't recognize him," Stocksdale said.
She began helping the club organize events, and went door to door during election time registering voters and supporting the candidates she felt would do well for the county, she said.
In 1990, club members asked Stocksdale to run for a spot on the Carroll County Republican Central Committee, which she eventually won. During her four-year term, she continued canvassing neighborhoods and registering voters.
In 1993, after former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett took office, he hired Stocksdale to work in his district office in Westminster, but she left shortly after to prepare for her own political campaign.
She was again asked to run, this time for an open seat in the House of Representatives in 1994 created by 1990 redistricting.
"I had no idea what [delegates] did or what money they made; I was just asked to run and I said I would," Stocksdale said.
After winning the delegate seat, she was appointed to the appropriations committee, which she was a member of during the entirety of her career in Annapolis, and the transportation and the environment subcommittee. After winning re-election in 1998, she said she asked to be put on the education and economic development subcommittee when the General Assembly convened the next year.
Stocksdale said she asked for the assignment because she thought her experience in the classroom would be helpful.
"I'm really very passionate at trying to help kids achieve in high school and beyond, and I felt that would be a better place for me than transportation," she said.
She said, however, that she got her most satisfaction from helping her constituents.
"I try to help people cut through the red tape of state government," she said. "The general public doesn't know that it is a very important part of my job."
Del. Susan Krebs, R-District 5, said she has worked with Stocksdale very closely since Krebs was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2002. Though Stocksdale's passion was education, Krebs said, she was far more hands-on when dealing with her constituents' needs than other politicians.
"[Stocksdale] also loved to go to community events to make sure people were honored for their service and achievements," Krebs said. "Nancy has an unlimited amount of energy; she's up doing stuff when I'm going to bed. She's full of enthusiasm."
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