This Aug. 1, 2013 file photo shows Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., flanked by Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin of Ill., left, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

As Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski prepares to retire next month, we remember the many “firsts” she achieved: the first Democratic woman to win a Senate seat without inheriting it from a dead spouse; the first woman to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee; and the longest-serving woman in congressional history.

Mikulski, since first deciding to run for the Senate in 1986, has established herself as a keen, capable negotiator as well as a real friend of the working and middle class.

And while the 80-year-old “energizing bunny” stands a mere 4 feet 11 inches tall, she has clearly found her way among the forest of hardcore, conservative-minded “Redwoods” in Congress.

Accolades have continued to pour down on “Senator Barb” and she deserves them all.

And so, as she prepares to step down in January, the legacy and contributions she leaves remind us that a politician can actually lead by example and be true to the needs of their constituents.

We will miss you, senator. Thanks for the memories and your zeal to serve.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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