Bilal Ali, a community liaison in the Baltimore state's attorney's office, was selected Wednesday to become Baltimore's newest state delegate — part of a series of recent changes to the city's delegation triggered by the election of Mayor Catherine Pugh and the retirement of state Sen. Lisa Gladden.
Ali, an event promoter who sits on the Democratic Central Committee that made the selection, beat fellow committee member Joyce Smith in a 5-1 vote. Ali and Smith both voted for themselves.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is required to appoint a nominee recommended by the committee.
"I'm ready to hit the ground running," said Ali, who works for State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby. "We have a lot of pertinent issues in the 41st District: crime and public safety, education and economic development. … We already have some preliminary legislation we're working on. I'm very excited."
He pledged to submit legislation to force a problem liquor store to close earlier. He said it had been the site of violence.
State delegates are paid $43,500 annually. The General Assembly meets for three months.
Eleven candidates applied to replace Jill P. Carter as a state delegate in the 41st District in Northwest Baltimore. Carter joined the Pugh administration this month as director of the Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement.
Ali defeated Smith, Sean Stinnett, Nii Sowah, Nachum "Nathan" Miller, the Rev. Steven Turner, Dayvon Love, Carrie Evans, Ellie Mitchell, Anthony White and Dr. Sharon Gorenstein.
Carter had endorsed Love, a co-founder of the activist group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle. After the vote, Carter said she had no problem with Ali but that she preferred Love.
"Dayvon has worked with me in the same spirit of activism," she said. "He represents the base that the Democrats are losing. I was hoping they would be a little less self-serving, but I was wrong. My seat should still be the people's seat."
During his presentation to the committee, Love said he would be a voice in Annapolis for more resources for Baltimore's African-American neighborhoods. "The solution to the problems that exist in our community is the community itself," he said. He said he envisioned Baltimore becoming a cultural arts center between D.C. and New York.
Ali said he didn't see the job as "political," but as being a "public servant." He said he wanted to ensure the Preakness stays at Pimlico Race Course and would lobby for a renovation of the facility.
In addition to Ali and Smith, other voting members of the committee were Wanda Wallace, Angela C. Gibson, Del. Nathaniel T. Oaks, and former City Council member Rochelle "Rikki" Spector. They all voted for Ali. Gladden, the seventh member of the committee, was absent.
The members of the central committee were chosen by Democratic primary voters in 2014.
Ali must still be appointed by Gov. Larry Hogan.
The Carter vacancy is one of several to follow the November election of Pugh, a former state senator. Pugh was replaced in the Senate by Del. Barbara Robinson. Former City Councilman Nick J. Mosby was recommended to fill that seat. Pugh has hired former state Del. Pete Hammen to be her chief operating officer. He was replaced by new Del. Robbyn Lewis.
All are Democrats.
Gladden's resignation from the Senate due to illness leaves one more vacancy in Baltimore's legislative delegation.
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