Baltimore City Council President-elect Nick J. Mosby (D) will be sworn in on Dec. 10, which means that his seat representing District 40 in the Maryland House of Delegates will soon be vacant.
At least six Baltimoreans said they plan to apply for the seat, which is the most interest that the city delegation has seen for a vacant seat in a long time, according to the district’s senator, Antonio L. Hayes (D). When Catherine E. Pugh (D) left the Senate to serve as Baltimore City mayor in 2016, there were only three people who were interested in filling her seat, Hayes recalled.
“I think nowadays people are far more attuned to who’s representing them, mainly driven by the attention that’s been given in this latest presidential race, so there is no shortage of them willing to step up and serve their community,” said Hayes, who is not currently promoting any of the candidates.
“We’re very happy that we will have an ally for the 40th District sent to the city council president [seat],” he said. “Nick Mosby was a huge contributor to our delegation in the 40th District.”
Once Mosby resigns from the House, the Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee can begin accepting applications for the vacant seat. After at least two weeks, the central committee will hold a public hearing during which members interview candidates and then vote to select a successor. They’ll forward the name to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) for appointment.
Six possible contenders for Mosby’s seat:
As a current Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee member for District 40, Crystal Jackson Parker said she understands the needs of the district and the vacancy “just made sense” for her to try to step into.
“The 40th has a lot of challenges, and we need people who are willing to fight without regard for ‘politics’ and ‘machines’ that might be standing in the way,” she said in an interview. “I’m not a ‘machine’ type of person. It’s about what I see and what people need and what people say that they need — that’s my only motivation.”
She said she would continue to advocate for the ban the box bill that will help reentering citizens get jobs after serving prison terms, as well as fight for the Kirwan commission education reform plan and better housing assistance for seniors and veterans.
“I know I can get the job done; I’ve already been doing the work,” she said.
Joshua Harris previously ran for the seat in 2018 as a Green Party candidate. He also ran for mayor of Baltimore City in 2016 on the Green Party ticket, in which he garnered 10% of the vote. Harris, currently a communications and government relations director for the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association and vice president of Baltimore City NAACP, said he is “absolutely interested” in filling Mosby’s vacancy.
“I think my track record of being involved and engaged in district speaks for itself,” Harris said.
He noted that he previously ran as a Green Party candidate because he did not feel like Baltimore’s Democratic Party was representative of the democratic values he believed in — namely advocating for the working class and increasing the minimum wage. But now, he said he believes that the Democratic Party “has worked in that direction.”
Harris has previously worked as an aide to then-Del. Charles E. Sydnor III (D-Baltimore County), who now serves in the Senate.
China Terrell is the president of the Baltimore Pumphouse project, which seeks to transform a blighted brownfield site in the Broadway East neighborhood into a commercial hub, as well as the CEO of American Communities Trust, a public charity that seeks to create inclusive economic development projects for low-income residents.
“Residents have been leading in really amazing and positive ways, and they should continue to lead,” she said. “I think that where the opportunity is for the leaders and for the political class is really to figure out new and innovative ways to make bigger work that the residents are already doing.”
After recognizing the need for greater leadership and more allies in Annapolis who understand local leaders, Terrell decided to run for the House in 2022, but also intends to compete for Mosby’s vacant seat during the upcoming appointment process.
As a representative, she said she would prioritize slashing property taxes, which she believes is perpetuating systemic racism. Many homes have negative values and people are abandoning them for a reason, she said. Lowering the murder rate through group violence reduction strategy and funding cognitive behavior therapy, in addition to supporting Black economic development are also essential to changing the narrative in Baltimore, she said.
Marlon Amprey, a former educator and currently an attorney, is also planning to compete for the seat. As a third generation resident of the district whose grandparents found prosperity in Baltimore City after escaping the Jim Crow South, Amprey says he cares deeply about the city. “It’s my blood, it’s who I am,” he said.
“What motivated me the most is seeing how as policy comes out of Annapolis and as the current governor decides on things, I don’t think that the policies that are coming forward are as equitable as they could be,” Amprey said. He said he would support equitable funding for schools and create more pathways of success for returning citizens.
Food deserts, better public transportation that enables residents to reliably get to grocery stores and work, and police accountability are also important issues for Amprey. “Quality of life is not what it should be,” he said.
Kathy Shulman has over 30 years of experience as a “social change activist” and most recently has worked with St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore, an organization that helps those impacted by poverty, built a food access social enterprise called KidzTable, a program that provides meals to children in the city.
“I think what makes me qualified is that I never operate alone,” she said. “I always work in coalitions or strategic partnerships to figure out what are the most important things to do in any given area, and to work in coalition with other partners to create systemic changes for communities.”
She said she is most interested in ensuring that public safety in Baltimore City is transparent and officers are held accountable. Preventing evictions during the pandemic and ensuring access to healthy food for all families are also priorities for Shulman.
Marshall Bell is currently the executive director of The Community Support Program, which provides analytical services of camera imagery to help reduce crime, limit dumping and reduce auto thefts. Bell is a former member of the Baltimore City Democratic Central Committee for the 40th District in 2014 and ran for city council in 2016.
“I have been around politics and public policy for most of my life and I think I’d be a great servant of the people for the 40th District,” he said in an interview. Bell said he supports economic development and a reimagination of how Baltimore City police officers do their job.
Terrell Boston Smith, a chief financial officer at the Baltimore City Sherriff’s Office, ran for the seat in 2018 but said he is enjoying his work in finance and does not plan to compete for Mosby’s vacant seat during the appointment process.
Whomever is selected will hold the seat through early 2023 and must run in the 2022 election if they are interested in serving a full four-year term.
The district could look different in the near future with legislative redistricting coming up, which could affect how candidates realign their campaigns and build relationships with community members. But that prospect alone is unlikely to deter people from competing for Mosby’s vacant seat.
Hayes says he hopes the central committee finds someone to fill the seat before the General Assembly session starts in January.
“We would really like to come into this upcoming legislative session with all complex issues that we have to deal with it with the full delegation, with a senator and three delegates to represent voices of the 40th District,” Hayes said.
This story has been updated to add biographical information about one of the possible contenders.
(Disclosure: Terrell Boston Smith is a member of the Maryland Matters Board of Directors.)