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Editorial

Marylander of the Year: 2022 finalists chosen for bravery, breaking barriers and bringing it | COMMENTARY

Each December, as we set out to choose a new Marylander of the Year, we take a look back at the biggest stories of the preceding 11 months to determine who in the state had a significant impact on a wide group of people. For 2020 and 2021, the headlines were dominated by the pandemic, and it was clear that our finalist choices would be, too. Most of those we selected had performed heroic feats either to keep communities healthy or to keep them functioning amid formidable challenges.

This year, we’re grateful to note that, while COVID is still a threat and safety precautions are necessary (especially during holiday gathering times), it no longer overshadows everything else. It can be difficult to appreciate that progress, given all that we’ve lost — 16,000 people in this state, alone — but we have steadily gained ground, nonetheless. Progress, in fact, might be the common thread among our 2022 Marylander of the Year finalists, who were chosen from nominations submitted by members of the public and Sun staff. Each has made remarkable strides in an area important to Marylanders for very different reasons, and in which there is still much work to be done.

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In alphabetical order, these are our finalists for the 2022 Marylander of the Year, the winner of which will be announced Wednesday, Dec. 28:

Baltimore Orioles players celebrate after designated hitter Anthony Santander, center right, hit a game-winning walkoff single to score Cedric Mullins to beat the Chicago White Sox 4-3 in the 11th inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, in Baltimore. The Orioles won 4-3 in 11 innings. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Baltimore Orioles

Here’s what The Sports Betting Network wrote about Baltimore’s beleaguered baseball team in its 2022 season preview: “The Orioles are slated for another last-place finish in a challenging AL East. … Help is coming from below, but taking a squirt gun to a raging wildfire doesn’t really work.”

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Ouch.

Instead of coming in as the last-place loser as predicted, however, the O’s came back with their first winning season in six years to end in fourth place with a near playoff finish. The team gave residents something to unite behind in these divisive times and earned the city positive national headlines for a change. As one nominator wrote, “Their attitude of never give up and always competing until the last out was a refreshing boost to morale of anyone who follows them.”

We get that one season does not a turnaround make, especially with next year representing the 40th anniversary of the last time the Orioles were in the World Series. But there’s no denying that the unexpected comeback of 2022 brought hope and genuine joy to many Marylanders, something that’s been in too short supply for too long.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore, second from left, declares victory over Republican opponent Dan Cox. Moore celebrates with running mate Aruna Miller, left, Brooke Lierman and Anthony Brown at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront on election night.

Maryland voters

Those who cast votes this year on Election Day not only put extremely qualified people into important offices, but they broke boundaries in the process.

When Wes Moore is sworn in next month, he will become the first African American governor of Maryland, and his running mate Arunah Miller becomes the state’s first Asian American lieutenant governor and the first immigrant to hold statewide office.

When Brooke Lierman takes over the Comptroller’s Office, she will become the first woman independently elected to statewide office. And Anthony Brown is set to become the first African American attorney general in the state’s history.

While we wish Maryland had reached such milestones long ago and that they spanned more offices, we commend voters for shattering multiple glass ceilings in one election cycle, sending the strong message that Maryland values all.

Former Catholic school students and their supporters joined together in 2012 to fight the early release from prison of teacher John Joseph Merzbacher, who was convicted of child rape at the Catholic Community Middle School in Locust Point.

Catholic sexual abuse survivors and their advocates

In 2018, after the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office released an explosive grand jury report detailing the horrors committed by more than 300 “predator priests” within that state’s Catholic Church, a notice appeared on the website of the Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s Office. It asked victims of child sexual abuse “associated with a school or place of worship” in Maryland, or those with knowledge of such acts, to share their stories.

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Hundreds of people came forward. And now, because of their bravery and Frosh’s initiative, Maryland is finally close to shining a public light on what the AG’s office is calling 80 years of abuse and torture. According to a memorandum filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court, 158 church officials, including priests, sexually abused more than 600 people, and the Catholic Church either ignored much of the behavior or actively sought to keep it hidden.

Frosh’s office is seeking in court to make public its 456-page investigative report. The document, made up largely of grand jury materials, is only possible because of the testimony of these courageous people, some of whom have been fighting to be heard for years. They spoke out in the hopes that some measure of justice and accountability will be achieved, but most importantly so that no one else would have to face the terrifying circumstances they or their loved ones endured.

Baltimore Sun editorial writers offer opinions and analysis on news and issues relevant to readers. They operate separately from the newsroom.

Editor’s note: This editorial has been updated to reflect the correct date that the Marylander of the Year will be announced. It is Wednesday, Dec. 28.


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