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Election 2022 Government & Politics

With Kelley’s Looming Retirement, District 10 Political Picture Getting Clearer

The District 10 Unity Team at an event in Randallstown this week. Left to right: Del. Benjamin T. Brooks, who is running for Senate; House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones; business consultant N. Scott Phillips; and public health policy expert Jennifer A. White. Campaign Facebook photo.

Just days after veteran state Senate Finance Chair Delores G. Kelley (D-Baltimore County) signaled her intention to retire, two of the three House incumbents in District 10 announced that they are forming a slate with two other candidates for the 2022 Democratic primary.

The District 10 Unity Team features two-term Del. Benjamin T. Brooks as the candidate for Senate to replace Kelley. The ticket includes House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, who will be seeking her seventh full term, and two nonincumbents, management consultant N. Scott Phillips and nonprofit executive Jennifer A. White. Phillips ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2002, and White is a political newcomer.

The quartet announced their plans Wednesday at the Randallstown Community Center — with Kelley’s blessing.

“We need new life,” said the 85-year-old lawmaker, who will complete her seventh term in the Senate and eighth in the General Assembly next year. “We need people who are ready. We need people who want to serve and have served.”

Brooks, a Vietnam veteran who has run an accounting business in the district for decades, credited Kelley with getting him involved in politics by encouraging him to run for the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee in 2010, and credited Jones with urging him to run for the House four years later. He joked that he was now seeking a seat “not in the House of Commons but in the House of Lords.”

Phillips is currently the chair of the Baltimore County Planning Board. He has run his own consulting business for more than three decades and has been a director on a U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency project in the Mid-Atlantic for the past several years.

“In the 10th District, we have challenges that require us to work together,” he said.

White is a public health policy professional who works as a senior community engagement officer for the Horizon Foundation in Howard County. She grew up in Michigan, the daughter of politically active teachers, and worked for political leaders there before moving to the Baltimore area.

“Service was something that was instilled in me at a very young age,” White said.

For Jones, this is her first reelection bid since winning the speaker’s gavel in 2019. She was appointed to the seat in 1997. She touted the strength and professional diversity of her team members.

“They will provide leadership that you desire and you deserve in the 10th District,” Jones said. She added that the House members would receive good committee assignments — “appointed by me,” she said to appreciative laughs.

The members of the District 10 Unity Team will not have the Democratic primary ballot to themselves, however.

Second-term Del. Hasan “Jay” Jalisi, who is largely estranged from the other incumbents in the district, has not said what his plans for 2022 are, but several political professionals and party activists say he is just as likely to run for Kelley’s Senate seat as seek reelection.

Also running for the House in District 10 is Ruben Amaya, a member of the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee who is bidding to become the first Latino to represent the county in the General Assembly. Last month, Amaya was endorsed by Progressive Maryland and the Working Families Party, which have promised grass-roots campaign help.

“Ruben is a brilliant candidate that will fight for racial and economic justice and lead us in a new way forward,” said Progressive Maryland Executive Director Larry Stafford.

Through mid-January, the last time state candidates were required to file campaign finance statements, Jones had a whopping $778,100 in her campaign treasury. Brooks reported $56,349 on hand, while Jalisi, a physician who owns a health management company, had zero in his campaign account but a $152,176 debt to himself — suggesting that he may be willing to self-fund a campaign in 2022. Of the nonincumbent candidates, only Amaya had done any fundraising before last January, and reported $1,481 on hand.


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With Kelley’s Looming Retirement, District 10 Political Picture Getting Clearer