Gov. Wes Moore (D) announced Friday that he had confirmed the appointment of Del. Alonzo Washington, a fellow Democrat, to fill a vacant Maryland Senate seat representing District 22 in Prince George’s County.
Washington is scheduled to be sworn in Monday night to replace longtime legislator Paul Pinsky (D), who represented the district in the Senate for nearly 29 years and spent eight years in the House before that.
Pinsky, who Moore picked to lead the Maryland Energy Administration, was appointed in August 1994 to replace former Sen. Thomas Patrick O’Reilly (D), who had represented the district since 1975.
According to Washington’s office, he would become the district’s first ever Black state senator. He’s served in the House of Delegates for slightly more than 10 years, representing a district that includes Riverdale, Greenbelt and Hyattsville.
Washington has said his priorities include improving educational outcomes for students, ensuring racial equity remains “a core value of Maryland’s economic outcomes,” and completing the Purple Line light-rail project.
He also said in an email Friday that Prince Georgians “deserve a world class health care system [because] we continue to fall way behind our neighboring jurisdictions in providing high quality services. We also [must] drive down crime and provide more outlets and services for our youth.”
Washington was unanimously nominated for the Senate vacancy last Saturday by the county’s Democratic Central Committee to fill the Senate seat. The central committee must now redo the process to fill Washington’s seat.
The committee plans to send out a request for applications Tuesday for those who seek appointment to the soon-to-be vacant delegate seat. Any further announcements such as when applications are due and when candidates will be interviewed can be found here.
Rush Baker and Ashanti Martinez, who have previously lost Democratic primary bids in District 22, told Maryland Matters Thursday they plan to seek the committee’s approval to replace Washington in the House.
A third Democrat, Molly McKee-Seabrook, said Friday she also plans to pursue the appointment. If selected, it would be her first time in political office.
McKee-Seabrook, 35, shares similar policy priorities with Baker and Martinez in support of universal health care, economic and social justice, affordable housing and convincing the U.S. General Services Administration to relocate the FBI headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Greenbelt.
The Prince George’s native also highlighted her support for organized labor, noting that her grandfather, father and two uncles were all members of Plumbers Local 5.
Besides being a woman, McKee-Seabrook said there’s one other major difference between her rivals and others in the county’s House delegation. She’s raising two young daughters, ages 3 and 5, while working as associate director of government relations at the University of Maryland.
“I think parents with children of any age certainly know what it’s like to raise babies and toddlers, but parenting during COVID has been incredibly challenging in a way parents have never experienced before,” she said. “Between child care [centers] closing, reduced hours, child care workforce shortages…It’s really important to have someone at the table who has experienced what COVID has [done] and the effect it had on child care.”
McKee-Seabrook, a 2010 graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland who majored in sociology with a minor in political science, touts her experience working as an aide for state Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) before he became the chamber’s president.
She was a legislative aide from October 2011 to October 2012 and then became his chief of staff, serving in that role until January 2019, a year before he formally became Senate president. Some of her duties included researching and drafting bills, coordinating bill hearings and running weekly staff meetings.
Her current job with the University of Maryland brings her regularly to Annapolis, especially during the 90-day legislative session, advocating for bills on behalf of the school and the university system.
“I have a good understanding of the legislative process. I have good relationships with people in Annapolis and people in the district,” she said. “I feel like I would be the most effective person to hit the ground running.”
The person chosen by the central committee and then confirmed by Moore would work alongside Dels. Anne Healey (D), whose been in the House since 1991, and Nicole Williams (D), appointed in December 2019 and elected to a full term in November.