Alex Wong, Getty Images
Benjamin Jealous steps down in January after five years as president of the NAACP, an era in which he resurrected the fortunes of the nation's oldest civil rights organization. Just 35 when he started, Mr. Jealous stabilized the NAACP's finances and brought it into the social media age. Most importantly, he has restored a sense that the NAACP is an organization that matters and that is focused on issues that people care about. The NAACP under Mr. Jealous became a force to oppose efforts to restrict access to the ballot box, and it assumed moral leadership in the fights against the death penalty and for marriage equality ¿ including successes on both fronts in Maryland that might not have been possible without him. Before Mr. Jealous, the NAACP seemed stuck in the past. Now it has its feet in the present and its eyes firmly on the future.
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Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun
Maryland was one of the few places to enact meaningful gun control laws after the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings. Credit is shared by many (notably including 1988 Marylander of the Year Vincent DeMarco), but the person responsible for the policy underpinnings of the new law was unquestionably Johns Hopkins professor Daniel Webster. It was his research that led to the state's new licensing system for handgun buyers, a part of the law aimed not just at reducing rare tragedies like mass shootings but at reducing the everyday toll of gun violence in the streets of places like Baltimore. Gun control policy tends to be dominated by emotion and ideology. Mr. Webster has become a leader by approaching the debate with data and reason. If the nation ever follows Maryland's lead in enacting sensible gun laws, it will owe much to his work.
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Readers submitted more than two dozen nominations for Marylander of the year. We added some ideas of our own and winnowed the list down to five finalists. Starting today,
you can click here to vote for your choice at baltimoresun.com.
We'll use the public's votes to help guide our deliberations and will announce the winner on Dec. 29.