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Government & Politics

Political notes: Moore’s team expands, Hogan’s judicial record, Our Maryland rebrands, and more personnel news

Maryland Gov.-elect Wes Moore (D) speaks with reporters after his victory on election night. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Gov.-elect Wes Moore (D) on Monday announced five new hires who will join his legislative team, and named his incoming administration’s communications director.

Moore said that June Chung, Brad Fallon, Myles Hicks, Saif Ratul and Melissa Ross will become deputy legislative officers, reporting to Eric Luedtke, the former state lawmaker who will be the administration’s chief legislative officer. David Turner, a veteran political operative who worked most recently for the Democratic Governors Association, will be the communications director.

“These individuals are dedicated and experienced — I know that on day one they’ll be ready to help us create a Maryland where no one is left behind,” Moore said in a statement.

The incoming administration’s announcement came with multiple quotes from well-known political figures praising Moore’s appointments.

Chung is currently a policy analyst with the Department of Legislative Services, drafting bills and staffing committees. For the last two General Assembly sessions, she served as committee counsel for the House Appropriations Committee, staffing the Health and Social Services Subcommittee, Oversight Committee on Pensions, and Oversight Committee on Personnel. She is considered an expert in several subject areas, including tax, pensions, education, health, human services, labor and employment, and budget process. During the interim, she has staffed the Joint Audit and Evaluation Committee and the Joint Committee on Pensions.

Before joining DLS, Chung graduated from the University of Baltimore Law School in 2018 after taking a career break, and was previously a history teacher in Pennsylvania and Virginia. She was born in South Korea and lived in England for 10 years before immigrating to the United States.

“During her time with the House Appropriations Committee, Ms. Chung exemplified integrity, fairness, passion, and a work ethic that are examples for us all in public service,” said Del. Mark Chang (D-Anne Arundel), the vice chair of the Appropriations panel. “June’s strong understanding of the complex budget process and her ability to work with diverse stakeholders have contributed to the state budget being equitable for all.”

Fallon comes to the job directly from serving as Luedtke’s chief of staff when the latter was House majority leader, though he has worked on legislative matters in Annapolis since 2017. In 2022 he co-taught a class at the University of Maryland’s Department of Government and Politics along with former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D).

Ulman called Fallon “a diligent, focused, and driven public servant who thrives by finding creative solutions to challenges facing our communities and society.”

Hicks has worked most recently as executive director of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence. He was previously executive director of Maryland Rise, a nonprofit working to promote economic opportunity for Marylanders.

Ratul was director of political engagement for Moore’s campaign during the Democratic primary, then took over as coordinated campaign director for the Maryland Democratic Party in the general election. He has also worked on the campaign of U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and on the White House campaigns of President Biden and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Ratul immigrated from Bangladesh with his family at age 13.

“Saif is an accomplished political operative with years of experience in Maryland and national politics who understands the importance of building and maintaining relationships to serve the community,” said Maryland Democratic Chair Yvette Lewis.

Ross began her career with the state as a member of the chief clerk’s office in the House of Delegates in 1995. In 2006, after having taken some time off to focus on raising her son, Ross worked in the secretary of the Senate’s office under President Mike Miller (D) and then as assistant to Chair Joan Carter Conway (D) in the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee. Most recently, has worked as office manager and deputy legislative officer in Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) legislative office.

“Melissa’s experience in the General Assembly allows the Moore administration to tap into her institutional knowledge of the legislative process and procedures to ensure there is a seamless transition going into the 2023 session,” said. She will be an invaluable asset to the team.”

Turner, Moore’s pick to be communications director, has been at the DGA since the 2018 election cycle and was communications director for the 2022 election. Previously, he was the communications director for former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s successful campaign in 2017, and has worked in Democratic politics since 2008.

“As an integral member of DGA senior staff, he helped Democratic governors across the country tell the story of progress made and promises kept leading to one of the committee’s best election cycles in the last century,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D), who chaired the DGA in the last cycle. “Wes Moore is going to be an outstanding governor for the people of Maryland, and David will be a key part of the successful team he’s building.”

Hogan continues makes final judicial appointments

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced his final judicial appointments last week.

Darren Sebastian Johnson, a current magistrate judge, will serve on the county’s Circuit Court. Llamilet Gutierrez, who has been a prosecutor with the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office since March 2021, will join the county’s District Court bench.

Stenise Lanez Rolle, also a magistrate judge, was also appointed to the Circuit Court.

The three new judges bring Hogan’s total judicial appointment tally up to 190. That figure includes six of seven justices on Maryland’s Supreme Court, and seven of the 15 judges on the Appellate Court.

Hogan’s office said the governor has appointed more female, Hispanic and Asian judges than any previous governor.

“While I am proud of the sheer number of judicial appointments we have made, I am just as proud of our success in ensuring that the composition of our courts better reflects the great diversity of our state,” Hogan said in a statement. “I urge the state’s leaders, judges, and legal community to continue to build on the work we have done to add diversity to the bench.”

The governor’s office also released a list of some of the historic appointments during his term, including the first Black chief judge of the Appellate Court and the first openly LGBTQ person to serve as an appellate chief judge, as well as the first Hispanic and Afro-Latina appellate judge and the first Asian American appellate judge and the youngest woman appointed to the Appellate Court.

Hogan thanked the three lawyers who served as chief legal counsels to his administration — Bob Scholz, Mike Pedone, and Chris Mincher — who helped with the judicial appointment process.

Progressive group Advance-s

Our Maryland, the 5-year-old umbrella organization for progressive groups and causes, has expanded and rebranded.

The group is now calling itself Advance Maryland.

“Five years ago, Maryland’s political landscape looked much different than it does today,” Advance Maryland wrote in an email to supporters on Sunday. “Now that we’re entering a new phase in Maryland politics with new leadership at all levels of state and local government it’s time to meet the moment with a fresh approach to progressive advocacy.”

In preparation for the upcoming General Assembly session, the group has hired two full-time staff members. Alice Wilkerson will be the executive director and Maya Holliday will be digital director. Both formerly worked with Strong Future Maryland, the advocacy group put together by former Democratic gubernatorial contender John King.

“We are excited for the year ahead, and ready to provide crucial digital and communications support to efforts to expand and ensure access to abortion care, protect the rights of trans Marylanders, continue to reform Maryland’s youth justice system, implement paid family leave, ensure Maryland is on track to meet its climate and energy goals, and much more,” the group wrote in its email.

Ivey’s chief

Newly sworn-in U.S. Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-Md.) has hired a chief of staff to guide his congressional office.

Robin Moses Peguero, who worked most recently for the U.S. House Select Committee Investigating the Jan. 6 Attack on the Capitol, is taking the job. He has also been an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University and an assistant Miami-Dade state attorney in Florida.

Peguero has also worked on Capitol Hill, as a speechwriter for Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) and as a spokesperson for former U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).

“Hiring Robin Peguero sets a strong tone for the kind of office I want to run,” Ivey said in a statement. “His leadership and acumen in the legal world will be of great use in Congress. His passion and dedication to public service parallels my own and he will assist me in navigating not only committees and legislation but also steering the incisive questioning and analysis of bills and laws to the benefit of the people of the fourth district of Maryland.”

More personnel news

Matthew Stegman, a veteran Democratic political operative in Maryland, has just taken a gig as staff attorney with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Stegman comes to the job from Baltimore City Hall, where he spent the past two years as director of fiscal and legislative services for City Council President Nick Mosby (D). Before that, he was deputy director for the Mayor’s Office of Government Relations under former Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young (D).

Stegman also spent several years as a top aide to Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), the outgoing chair of the House Appropriations Committee in Annapolis. He’s also worked on myriad campaigns in Maryland and across the Rust Belt.

Editor’s Note: This story was corrected to remove statements that new appointees to the Prince George’s County courts were the first Hispanic judges on their respective benches. The Maryland Judiciary released a statement on Jan. 12 clarifying that, due to an administrative error, the judiciary had “misinformed” the governor’s office that no current or former judges in the county were Hispanic. Previous appointees, Judge Gladys Weatherspoon of the circuit court and Judge Cheri Simpkins of the district court, are Afro-Latina-Hispanic and Afro-Latina, respectively. “The Judiciary has corrected the administrative error to prevent future mistakes and applauds Governor Hogan on his commitment to adding diversity to the benches across the state, including historic firsts.”