A former speechwriter for Gov. Martin O'Malley joined the crowded field of candidates for the three open delegate seats in District 12.
Nick Stewart added his name to a group that includes the daughter of a former state senator, a former state delegate, two former candidates for Baltimore County Council, a former candidate for Howard County Council, two Columbia physicians and a Howard County teacher.
"This opportunity came up to serve, and that's when I started giving it some serious thought," said Stewart, 29, an Arbutus resident who grew up in Timonium.
Stewart received a bachelor's degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland in 2006, then spent two years working as a speech and press release writer for then-Mayor Martin O'Malley.
"When he was elected, I was able to go over to the State House and work with him," Stewart said.
"I realized I needed to be able to do one thing very well instead of trying to do too much maybe at the time," he said of the experience. "I went to law school just to go through the process."
After obtaining a law degree from George Washington University — he graduated in 2010 — Stewart spent a year working as a law clerk for Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr.
He now works in the Baltimore office of the Saul Ewing law firm.
Stewart and his wife Katie Stewart, also 29, moved to the Arbutus area early this summer.
He decided to run for office after hearing that three incumbents who had represented Districts 12A and 12B had all decided not to seek re-election.
Del. Liz Bobo, who represents the Howard County portion of the district, District 12B, announced her retirement in September 2012.
Dels. James Malone Jr. and Steven DeBoy, who represent the predominantly Baltimore County area of the district, District 12A, each announced they would not represent their district in mid-April.
State redistricting eliminated the subdistricts for the 2014 election, so there will no longer be one delegate to represent only Howard County and two to represent predominantly Baltimore County. Three delegates will now represent the entire district, which includes Arbutus, Catonsville, Ellicott City and parts of Columbia.
"It's a terrific opportunity," Stewart said of the chance to enter a race in which there are no incumbents. "It's always something I've wanted to try to do.
"Working for Mayor and Governor O'Malley, you read a lot of speeches, a lot of text," he said. "I think those values really do become hardened and a part of your life."
Stewart said he would not let his age nor the district's regional disparities affect his attitude toward running.
"I think it depends on the choices you make, not so much on a number," Stewart said of his age. "I think there's a good thing to having youth, to having people who are bringing new ideas to the table."
Stewart is not the youngest candidate in the District 12 field. Lansdowne resident Brian Bailey is 28.
"You look around and you talk to folks about the issues in Columbia, the issues in Arbutus, the issues in Catonsville," he said. "Whether it's the [MARC] train station and UMBC....[or] it's some of the overcrowding we have in Catonsville.
"Not to be cliche, but there is more that unites us than divides us," Stewart said.
He said he would be a big advocate for education and transportation programs in the area.
"I think there's nothing more important to families than feeling secure so kids have a good stable platform on which to grow," Stewart said.
'We have the nation's best education system for a reason and I think there are things we can do to take it to the next level," he said.