Ferguson Announces Key Hires, Will Retain Miller’s Chief of Staff

Senate President nominee Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City). Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

State Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City), the presumptive next Senate president, told his colleagues in a memo Tuesday that he intends to keep his predecessor’s chief of staff in that role when he officially takes over on Jan. 8.

Ferguson said he would retain Yaakov “Jake” Weissmann as chief of staff. Weissmann has been chief of staff to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) for a year, but served Miller and the Senate Democratic Caucus in several other roles for the past decade.

“As you know, Jake has a deep knowledge of the budget and policy challenges we face, and an unparalleled reservoir of goodwill with Senators of both parties, our colleagues in the House of Delegates, and the Governor’s office,” Ferguson wrote. “He has a clear moral compass and is well-respected for his thoughtful approach to policy-making. I believe that the Senate of Maryland will be well-served by Jake’s continued stewardship, and am happy he will be continuing in this role.”

By tapping Weissmann, Ferguson is taking the same path as House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), who retained Alexandra M. Hughes, who had been the late speaker Michael E. Busch’s chief of staff, when she took the speaker’s gavel on May 1.

Ferguson announced that Sally Robb, an attorney who previously worked for the Department of Legislative Services, including as senior policy counsel to the House Economic Matters Committee, will become his deputy chief of staff. Robb has also worked as associate director of State Affairs for Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.

Ferguson is retaining Joy Walker, Miller’s longtime office manager, in that same role.

“It is no surprise to anyone that Joy is the greatest staff asset the Senate of Maryland has, and I am honored that she will continue in her role,” Ferguson wrote his colleagues. “She is respected and loved by all 47 Senators, and her knowledge of the Senate is critical to a successful transition.”

Walker began working for state government in 1972 and became office manager for the Senate president in 1988.

Ferguson also announced that Ross Seidman, who had served as the chief of staff of his Senate office, will assume the role of special assistant to the Senate president. Seidman is a former middle school Social Studies teacher at Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School #215 in Baltimore through Teach for America.

“I want to thank you for the kindnesses each of you has shown me over the last month since the Democratic Caucus nominated me to succeed Senate President Miller in January,” Ferguson told his colleagues. “Each of you has provided me with guidance and insight that will be instrumental as we collectively work to transition from President Miller’s leadership over our Chamber.

“While I firmly believe that there is only one President at a time, I know that I must move forward in anticipation of my potential election by the full Senate in January. Of the many important decisions to be made in the months ahead, choices of staffing for the President’s office are of high importance, as these staff members will interact with you daily – and should I be elected by the body in January – these team members will work for each of you as well.”

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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.