Roundup: Prince George’s Dems pick chair for House vacancy, attitudes on sports betting, and new enviro leaders
The chair of the Prince George’s County Democratic Party was chosen Thursday to fill a vacancy in the House of Delegates.
The nomination of Kent Roberson, 38, will be sent to Gov. Wes Moore (D), who will have 15 days to make the appointment to the seat.
Roberson, who was elected by unanimous vote, was picked by the Democratic Central Committee from a field of four candidates who interviewed for the job to replace former Del. Darryl Barnes (D), who left the legislature to work as a partner in the Annapolis lobbying and government relations firm of Evans & Associates.
The other candidates who interviewed Thursday evening were former District 25 Del. Angela Angel, Stanley Onye, and Jonathan White.
At the start of the meeting, Angel questioned whether Roberson, who is registered as a federal lobbyist related to his work as senior manager of government relations for the Corn Refiners Association, was eligible for the appointment.
The committee’s bylaws state that a “regulated lobbyist” cannot serve on the committee’s leadership or take part in legislative appointments.
After a brief closed session, the committee’s first vice chair, Antwan Brown, said the provision applied to state-registered lobbyists, not those working on Capitol Hill. Roberson did not take part in the closed session; he did eventually cast a vote in favor of his own nomination.
He was endorsed during the appointment process by the current District 25 delegation: Sen. Melony Griffith and Dels. Nick Charles and Karen Toles, all Democrats.
“He shares some of the characteristics that we have found are important in Annapolis,” Griffith said during Thursday’s meeting. “…Kent has demonstrated dependability, accessibility, consistency, he makes the work a priority, he seeks guidance and he’s a thoughtful communicator.”
Roberson emphasized teamwork during his remarks before the committee vote.
His second endorser in the committee’s process was Johnathan Medlock, who had indicated an interest in the appointment but stepped aside to support Roberson. In 2022, Medlock stepped down from his role as mayor of District Heights to temporarily fill a vacancy on the Prince George’s County Council, vowing not to seek reelection and allowing the council to avoid allegations of favoritism during an election year.
The county’s Democratic Central Committee has voted three times this year to fill legislative vacancies.
In January, Sen. Alonzo Washington (D) was appointed to replace longtime Prince George’s County state Sen. Paul Pinsky (D) after Pinsky was named director of the Maryland Energy Administration. Ashanti Martinez (D) was then appointed to replace Washington in the House of Delegates.
In neighboring Montgomery County, the Democratic Central Committee has made four appointments this year and the process to fill a fifth vacancy is underway now.
A bill that would have required special elections for legislative vacancies in the first two years of the four-year legislative term stalled this year in the House Ways and Means Committee. It was introduced by Del. Linda Foley (D-Montgomery) — who was chair of the county central committee when she was appointed to her seat in late 2021.
Maryland’s sports betting industry is still in its infancy. State lottery officials have said in recent weeks that the activity — mobile, online and in-person — is on pace to meet projections but just how many people participate?
A poll released Thursday by the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College finds that the vast majority of those surveyed are unlikely to wager on sports in the the next year.
Of those surveyed, just 23% said they would bet on a sporting contest. Democrats and Republicans were equally likely to place a bet — 24% and 25% respectively — with just 16% of independents saying they’d participate in the activity. Across genders, 25% of men and 20% of women said they would likely place a bet in the next year.
The 10 retail locations — including five of six casinos — and eight mobile sports books combined in March to set records with nearly $386 million in total handle. Mobile sports betting accounted for roughly 96% of that total. Of that, the state received more than $5.3 million that month, mostly from mobile wagering.
The summer months are expected to be slightly slower following the March Madness college basketball tournaments.
The Goucher poll surveyed 800 Marylanders April 18-23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5% and was conducted in partnership with The Baltimore Banner.
EPA shuffles Chesapeake Bay leadership
Dr. Kandis Boyd, who became the director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office just 11 months ago — and the first permanent leader of the office in over a year — is moving on to a new job at the agency, putting another interim director in charge.
Last week, David Campbell took over as the interim director of the EPA’s Bay program. He’s been director of the Laboratory Services and Applied Science Division in the EPA’s Region 3 Mid-Atlantic office since its creation in 2019.
“Under his leadership, the new Division has been a trusted partner across Regional program areas providing robust scientific support for decision-making,” Adam Ortiz, the former Maryland environmental official who heads EPA’s Region 3 office, said in an email to colleagues.
Over the past 15 years, according to EPA, Campbell has held management positions in the Air Protection Division, Land and Chemicals Division, and in the Environmental Assessment and Information Division.
Boyd, meanwhile, is moving on to the role of senior advisor to the regional administrator, where she’ll focus on implementing the Biden administration’s priority initiatives for environmental protection and infrastructure in Region 3. She’s a longtime government scientist and weather forecaster who came to EPA from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
In his email, Ortiz said the changes will enable EPA to “deliver on our Agency and Regional priorities.”
It’s easy being green
The Montgomery County Green Bank has a new CEO.
The bank’s board this week announced that Stephen Morel, who has been serving as chief investment officer since 2019, will succeed Tom Deyo, the Green Bank’s inaugural CEO, who announced his plans to leave in March and will remain on as chief operating officer until July 1.
As chief investment officer, Morel helped develop the Green Bank’s investment strategy and catalyzed clean energy investment into the county by over $30 million. The bank works with the county government and provides funding and loans to clean energy and energy efficiency projects.
“His unique investment background combined with his commitment to the Green Bank’s mission makes Steve ideally suited for our ambitious next chapter of scale, scope and impact,” said Bonnie Newman, the bank’s board chair.
Prior to his work with the green bank, Morel led a financial consulting company dedicated to connecting infrastructure developers with debt and equity financing sources. He began his financial career in project and investment banking at Taylor-DeJongh and Friedman, Billings, Ramsey.
“I’m looking forward to supporting talented and driven colleagues deliver on new, innovative, and catalytic climate solutions as we move into our next phase,” Morel said.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Kent Roberson did not take part in the central committee vote. This story has been updated.