As the 439th legislative session begins later this week, with one of the largest freshman classes of state legislators; five members of the Baltimore City House delegation will be the fresh faces looking to make an instant impact on public policy for the great state of Maryland.
One is a labor leader, another is an assistant state’s attorney. The other three have worked in government either for state or city agencies, having an in-depth knowledge of the political process giving them the ability to hit the ground running. And while they vary in their backgrounds, races and religions; these five fabulous, freshmen legislators, are unified in one thing – making Baltimore safe and bringing home resources that can improve the lives of the 600,000+ residents that make up Charm City.
There is only one man that makes up that Fab Five, with only two of these freshman being born and raised in Baltimore City. But if you were going to bet on which local freshman delegation would have the biggest impact during their first four years, this group of young and progressive politicos would win hands down.
In the 40th district, only one candidate was able to breakthrough to secure the open seat that was made available after a political shuffle of seats that began with the election of the district’s former state senator as Mayor of the City of Baltimore. After which, Delegate Barbara Robinson was chosen to replace outgoing Senator Catherine Pugh, which allowed for former councilman Nick Mosby to join the elected House members, Antonio Hayes and Frank Conaway Jr.
Delegate Hayes decided to run for state senate, defeating Robinson, which opened up a seat that allowed for Baltimore Washington Building Trades Union rep Melissa Wells to win a contentious election that witnessed over a dozen candidates vying for one of the three House seats. Instead, Mosby and Conaway were elected back to their seats, and Wells – a financial security specialist by trade – was able to squeak out a hard-fought victory.
In the 41st legislative district, one that encompasses the largest bloc of Jewish voters across the City of Baltimore, two Jewish legislators were able to secure two-thirds of the seats available. One was an incumbent, Delegate Sandy Rosenberg, while the other was a political novice who happens to also be an assistant state prosecutor, who ran a targeted campaign that sought to get “tough on crime” if elected. She will be joined by freshman delegate Tony Bridges, a young African American community leader and advocate, who has worked for multiple city and state agencies – including the Maryland Transit Administration, the Governor’s Office for Community Initiatives and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods and Constituent Services.
This district was also shaken up prior to the election starting with the resignation of their state senator, Lisa Gladden, which led to the appointment of former district state delegate Jill Carter, whose resignation as state delegate to work in the Pugh administration led to the appointment of two new delegates (as another delegate assumed the state senate seat first, Nathaniel Oaks, before being indicted and subsequently convicted on felony charges). And while the two house appointees – Bilal Ali and Angela Gibson – has an advantage of being labeled Delegate over a year prior to the election; however, their brief incumbency didn’t help them outduel Attar or Bridges during the 2018 Primary elections.
In the 43rd district, they had an open seat due to one of their incumbent House members choosing to run for state senate in that district. And once Mary Washington announced her decision to challenge incumbent Senator Joan Carter Conway, it opened up a windfall of candidates vying to either win that open seat or one of the other two House seats – especially given that one of those incumbents were under fire due to multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
However, that accused delegate, Curt Anderson, ultimately won re-election, as did longtime delegate Maggie McIntosh, who helped propel their chosen candidate to victory as well. Regina Boyce, a Waverly resident who pulled her community together in 2015 to declare that crime was a public health crisis after two children were shot on her block; outlasted numerous candidates looking to win that vacant seat. Boyce, a former community liaison for the Office of the City Council President, now serves as the director of Strong City Baltimore’s adult learning center.
And in the 45th district, one of the most targeted districts across the city without having a resignation or retiring state legislator, wound up electing a resilient candidate by the name of Stephanie Smith. After first-term state delegate Cory McCray decided to challenge his longtime state senator, Nathaniel McFadden, that opened up a seat that almost a dozen candidates sought to fill in the 2018 Primaries. But it was Smith’s aggressive door-knocking campaign, at times outworking her entire class of competitors (while carrying a baby in her belly), that helped the current assistant director of the Department of Planning.
If you combine the intellectual prowess and the sheer will of each of these five freshman legislators, it seems as if Baltimore City should have higher hopes of seeing tangible policy change over the next few years, than the possibility of the Ravens winning the Super Bowl each of these years. Couple these newcomers raw energy with the astute politicians that make up the freshman class of state senators in each of these districts, and Baltimore should be proud of the possibilities that exist in the years to come.