I wanted to share a story with your readers regarding a recent interaction with State Senator J.B. Jennings and relay how he has renewed my faith in our elected officials and the political process.
I am a resident of Senator Jennings' district, in Eastern Baltimore County. I'm not active in politics, I've never met Senator Jennings, I don't donate any money, and I'm not a "power broker" in any sense of the word. I'm simply a constituent.
I'm also a member of a local law club that has monthly meetings. Being a new member, I drew the lot of providing a speaker for our last meeting, which was Tuesday March 20th. I had no idea who I was going to invite. I decided it would be interesting to have a legislator come to our meeting — to speak on pending legislation in the General Assembly. In January, I left a message on Senator Jennings' office voicemail, explaining that I was a constituent and that I would like him to come speak at my club (which has about 30 active members). I didn't expect a return call, but that same day, I got a call back from his chief of staff. His staff verified the date and confirmed that Senator Jennings would be happy to attend.
Senator Jennings, despite being on the floor of the Maryland Senate on Tuesday until 6:45 p.m., made it to the meeting. He drove directly from Annapolis to Baltimore and arrived without complaint. He clearly had a long day, missed eating dinner, but arrived just in time for coffee and to speak to the group.
The typical speaker lasts 10 minutes. Senator Jennings spoke for a few minutes about various legislative items but then fielded questions for the next 45 minutes. He was polite, thoughtful, entertaining, funny and deliberate. If he disagreed with a person's opinion, he explained his position and why he decided to vote a particular way on a particular bill. After the event concluded, Senator Jennings stayed behind to answer more questions and didn't end up leaving until close to 10 p.m.
He did all this knowing that I was probably his only constituent at the club; he spent the day away from his wife; he had an hour drive home from downtown Baltimore after the event; and he would drive back to Annapolis the next morning to do it all again.
After the meeting, many members of the law club have contacted me saying how impressed they were with Senator Jennings, his poise, his presentation, and how he honestly and intelligently answered questions (regardless of party line).
Senator Jennings, during the whole night, simply said that he was there to serve and that we paid his salary. When he said it, he did so honestly.
Recently, I've had a hard time believing in our government and our elected officials, but one short evening Senator Jennings renewed my faith.
Thank you, Senator Jennings, for answering my call.
Kurt E. Nachtman, Middle RiverCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun