Gov. Larry Hogan has appointed Carl Jackson and Cathi Forbes to fill two vacant Baltimore County seats in Maryland’s House of Delegates.
Baltimore County Democrats recommended Jackson to fill the District 8 seat in Northeast Baltimore County vacated by Eric Bromwell, while Forbes will fill the District 42A seat in the Towson area formerly held by Stephen Lafferty. Both Bromwell and Lafferty resigned from the General Assembly to join Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.’s administration.
“I am confident that Carl Jackson and Cathi Forbes will represent the citizens of Baltimore County admirably in their new role as state delegates,” Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement. “I offer them both my sincere congratulations and look forward to working with them in the upcoming legislative session.”
Jackson, a 34-year-old Rosedale resident and Overlea High School graduate, is an analyst at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. A Baltimore native, Jackson was raised as the oldest of four siblings in the Hollander Ridge public housing development by his single mother until she got married. His upbringing involved “a lot of responsibility at an early age” because he helped with his siblings and performed household chores, he said.
Jackson moved to the county to care for his disabled grandmother and attend high school, he said. In 2017, he obtained a master’s degree in business administration at Strayer University, where he previously earned his bachelor’s in business administration in 2008. Jackson worked even as he went to college full-time to support his family, he said. He is raising three children with his wife.
Although Jackson always appreciated the political process, he said Barack Obama’s presidency inspired him to get involved in public service. Paraphrasing Obama’s farewell address, Jackson said he wanted to “be the change that I wanted to see.” He went to a meeting for the Baltimore County Democratic State Central Committee and later he expressed his interested in representing District 8.
Jackson finished fourth among six candidates who ran for three seats in the district in 2018. He was later named co-chair of the public safety work group within the transition team formed by Olszewski.
Jackson learned from his campaign that District 8 is fiscally conservative, but “very liberal” on environmental issues, he said.
“I’ve knocked on doors where it was so hot outside I was offered bottles of water or cookies, so it helped me to see the good in people, and that’s why I have so much faith still — despite what’s going on at the federal level — in our county,” Jackson said.
As a delegate, Jackson said he will focus on “equity” by seeking ways to create opportunities for people to pull themselves out of poverty. His priorities include investments in technical and construction training, and implementing career and technical education programs in high schools. He also wants to secure state funds for communities that haven’t seen investments “in quite some time.” Jackson also wants to work with the police department to bridge relationships between officers and the community.
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Forbes, a 54-year-old Towson resident who has spent the past two decades as an education advocate, is a mediation coordinator for the Orphans’ Court for Baltimore County. She was raised in Cleveland and graduated in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in English and art history from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. She worked in Washington as an editorial assistant at a magazine and as an administrative assistant with an advertising agency, where she met her husband.
They moved to Baltimore in 1990 when her husband took a job with an ad agency as Forbes went to work for five years for a greeting card company. They have two children together.
Forbes and a few others formed Towson Families United, a coalition of community members and business leaders in District 42A for the state House of Delegates, in late 2007, early 2008. They raised awareness about elementary school overcrowding that resulted in the construction of two new schools, West Towson Elementary and Mays Chapel Elementary.
Forbes said her priorities would include protecting the environment and expanding green space, promoting policies to protect working families, and ensuring access to quality, affordable health care. She also called for an aggressive push for the passage of legislation to help fund vital school construction projects around the Beltway, including Towson High School. She also wants to implement the funding overhaul laid out in the plans of the so-called Kirwan commission for the state’s public schools.
“I have years of working with all the members of my community to find solutions to problems and build consensus,” Forbes said. “By day I’m a trained mediator and I work in the court systems and run an alternative dispute resolution program and I would bring all of those tools to Annapolis.”
Forbes will be the first woman to serve as the delegate for District 42A. Jackson will be the first African American to represent District 8. They will be paid $50,330, plus benefits and some expenses.
Following their appointment, House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne A. Jones now must schedule an Oath of Office ceremony to officially swear Jackson and Forbes into office.