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District 12's new delegates prepare for debut in Annapolis on Jan. 14

The newly elected representatives for District 12 in the House of Delegates, from left, Eric Ebersole, Dr. Terri Hill and Dr. Clarence Lam pose for a photo outside of the Maryland State House in Annapolis on Nov. 14.
The newly elected representatives for District 12 in the House of Delegates, from left, Eric Ebersole, Dr. Terri Hill and Dr. Clarence Lam pose for a photo outside of the Maryland State House in Annapolis on Nov. 14. (Jen Rynda, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The election is over, but that doesn't mean it's time to relax for the three newly elected District 12 state delegates — Eric Ebersole, Dr. Terri Hill and Dr. Clarence Lam.

"It was hard work, but it still is," said Ebersole, 56, a Howard County math teacher who lives in Catonsville, seated on a bench in front of an Ellicott City coffee shop before joining Hill and Lam for a community association meeting in Relay and another in Lansdowne.

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The first-time legislators are gearing up for their first day in the General Assembly on Jan. 14.

"The next couple of months are going to be busy, because while we won't be campaigning, we will be doing the same outreach that was expected of us during the campaign," said Lam, 33, a preventive medicine physician who lives in Columbia.

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The three Democrats, who campaigned as a team with District 12 incumbent state Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, knocked on thousands of doors and attended hundreds of community meetings in the course of the campaign in the district, which includes parts of Baltimore and Howard counties.

Ebersole, who travels often across the county border, said although there are political differences between the areas, most people want similar things.

"People like to draw this line between them," he said. "Certainly there's a different political demographic between the two, but I don't think what people want in those two is really different – good schools for their kids and good opportunities to get jobs and fair treatment of people who need help."

Kasemeyer, 69, a member of the state Senate since 1987 and chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee since 1995, said adjusting to a role in Annapolis takes time, like any new job.

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"It's a new culture to get used to, a new structure, different way of doing things. Once you begin, sometimes your perspective changes," Kasemeyer said.

"Right now, it's really just about getting things set up, so that come January I'll be ready to get things set up to become an effective member of the General Assembly," said Hill, 55, a plastic surgeon who lives in Columbia.

That preparation includes familiarizing themselves with other delegates from across the state.

"We're trying to get to know our fellow legislators, of which there are many – the new ones that are coming in," Lam said. "We normally see that the most effective legislators are ones that not only know their districts, but also know their colleagues."

The three newcomers will bring professional knowledge and experience about health care and education, key areas of concern for many, to Annapolis.

Hill and Lam both touted their experience as physicians on the campaign trail and said they will focus on making the Affordable Care Act a more effective law.

"I want this law to work and to work well, and I think that's a process," Hill said.

Lam, who served on the legislative staff of state Del. Dan Morhaim, currently the only physician in the General Assembly, said he would like to take a closer look at the state's health exchange rollout last year.

"It's worthwhile to delve a little deeper into what went wrong last year, not necessarily to assign blame but so that we can find lessons learned," Lam said.

Ebersole, an educator for 34 years, said he will continue to work as a teacher and will have a long-term substitute teacher fill in during the legislative session. He wants to focus on improving the Common Core State Standards.

"It's a great concept," he said. "It's about students being thinkers and team players and working together but it comes with some baggage —evaluation and testing. We need to make sure that doesn't weigh it down."

All three said they plan to work with Republican governor-elect Larry Hogan, but expect there will be challenges.

"I really hope that he sees this not as an opportunity to put forward his agenda, but as an opportunity to help the state," Ebersole said.

Hill said she expects to see a continuation of former Gov. Bob Ehrlich's policies, because Hogan served as secretary of appointments in the Republican's cabinet. "I'm concerned that a lot of the work that has been done and a lot of the achievements that have been hard fought and hard won are going to take a step back," Hill said.

"It's going to wait-and-see kind of approach," Lam said. "I hope he doesn't take a bludgeon to programs that are working."

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