Opinion: Reforming the Democratic State Central Committee Starts With Actions
The past three elections saw record turnout and ushered in a new wave of reform-minded progressive officials in Baltimore City government and on the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee.
In 2018, I joined a wave of young and diverse candidates seeking to reform and reenergize the central committee. We ran on a platform of increased voter engagement, reforming the Maryland General Assembly legislative vacancy appointment process, and ensuring the committee truly elevated younger, community-driven and diverse political talent, not just serving as a club for insiders and their family members.
The most immediate objective of our group was to end the practice of elected officials jointly serving in office and on the Democratic State Central Committee.
The dual role creates obvious conflicts of interest and allows officeholders to exert undue influence over the legislative vacancy appointment process, often serving their own interests first and the interests of their districts second.
However, despite our efforts, the committee’s bylaws have not been amended to bar this practice.
Similarly, House Bill 335, sponsored by Del. Regina T. Boyce, which would prohibit elected officials from also serving on their local party central committees was not enacted into law during the General Assembly session this spring.
In March, I declared my candidacy for the open House of Delegates seat in District 46. To me, actions have always spoken louder than words, and I believe we must lead with our actions to serve as an example to others. Therefore, I will not be seeking re-election to the Democratic State Central Committee while running for a seat in the House of Delegates.
I am proud of the work I have accomplished with my colleagues in District 46, including local voter registration and Census response collection efforts, supporting our Democratic colleagues in office and helping to revamp the citywide Democratic State Central Committee.
In 2018, we knocked on countless doors to elect the first African-American female delegate in our district – Robbyn Lewis – and spoke to innumerable residents about the harm of the Hogan administration’s continued targeting and scapegoating of our city. I have fond memories of these activities and have forged bonds with fellow activists that will last a lifetime.
Already, community leaders and organizers throughout Baltimore City are declaring their visions for what the Democratic State Central Committee could and should be. The committee was an invaluable experience for me and helped me to grow my community relationships and involvement, while fighting for the values I believe in.
It is time for new driven, inspired and committed leaders to learn and grow with our district. In fact, it is already happening.
Earlier this year, Keisha Allen was selected to fill a vacancy on the District 46 central committee. Keisha is a respected and proven community leader and provides a needed perspective on behalf of South Baltimore communities that are far too often neglected.
Many other qualified community driven leaders applied to fill the vacancy, and I am encouraged to see that, despite not being selected, they have doubled down on their engagement to improve our shared district and city.
The Democratic State Central Committee is not a perfect body. We must do more to end cronyism and conflicts of interest. The committee must continue to evolve into the needed breeding ground of diverse political talent we know it can be.
I hope that my decision to vacate my seat while seeking higher office sends an important message to current and future members that we must turn our words into concrete action.
The stakes could not be higher for Baltimore City as we have a tremendous opportunity to send a Democrat who values and listens to our communities to the governor’s mansion in 2022.
The writer is vice chairman of the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee in District 46 and candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates. He can be reached at [email protected].