As Democratic activists and residents of the 43rd Legislative District in Baltimore City, we watch with great interest the race for the leadership of the Maryland House of Delegates, and we write to urge the members of the House to support our representative, Del. Maggie McIntosh, for speaker. No candidate brings a comparable record of fighting for progressive values, standing up for Marylanders who need the support of their government and ensuring that Maryland’s next generation enjoys a greater measure of opportunity than previous ones have.
While the candidates vie for the speakership, questions have been raised about the propriety of a Democratic lawmaker soliciting the support of the minority Republican Party to attain this position. Indeed, the Republican minority is working to leverage its 42 votes as a bloc for Delegate McIntosh’s opponent, Del. Dereck Davis of Prince George’s County. He could win with a majority of his votes coming from Republicans, and would enter into office indebted to them — which means a conservative agenda will take hold of the General Assembly.
We have seen what happens when a conservative minority party wields undue influence in legislative proceedings. We only need to reflect on what the Republicans did to President Barack Obama’s agenda to see the peril of this strategy; while it is true that the speaker is the leader of all delegates, Maryland voters have time and again returned large Democratic majorities to office and have prioritized a progressive approach to the problems that face us. Empowering the GOP — many of whom support a regressive agenda reflective of the president’s wishes — to tip the scales for their preferred candidate for speaker would contradict what the voters of our state want.
Delegate McIntosh’s service speaks not only to her concern for Maryland’s vulnerable residents and its long-term social and environmental welfare, but to her legislative skill in creating laws that better serve them.
She has co-sponsored legislation to expand marriage equality and to end the use of capital punishment in our state, and she has fought to ensure that funding is available to mitigate damage to the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland’s most valuable natural resource. She has supported and enacted legislation to address crime and has taken an evidence-based approach in supporting programs like Safe Streets. She has also supported the DREAM Act and the expansion of protections for first-generation Americans in Maryland. Most notably, Delegate McIntosh is committed to mentoring the next generation of leaders in Maryland and understands the role that a strong educational system can play in creating opportunity and reducing issues such as crime and poverty: As a member of the Kirwan Commission and as chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, she was instrumental in passage of a bill this legislative session to infuse our ailing school system with badly needed funds.
On many issues — in particular, marriage rights for LGBTQ Marylanders — her opponent finds himself on the wrong side of history. Delegate McIntosh’s accomplishments, in contrast, clearly demonstrate the depth of her commitment to all Marylanders and her capacity for achieving real change.
And while we know all Marylanders will benefit from Delegate McIntosh’s commitment and service, it is important now, more than ever, that our speaker be from Baltimore and able to effectively advocate for Maryland’s largest city, a cultural hub and the state’s economic engine.
In choosing the next speaker of the House of Delegates, we hope that our representatives will seek a forward-thinking legislator who has fought time and again for policies that address Marylanders’ immediate needs while also positioning our state, and our leaders, to succeed in the 21st century. We ask that they consider a legislator’s ideas and vision, but also their prowess to enact a strong agenda that advances social and economic equality for the next generation. We ask that they support a leader who remembers and fights for progressive, justice-oriented values and engages every member of the House. In Del. Maggie McIntosh, they have such a leader.
Alex Garcia (firstname.lastname@example.org) lives in the 43rd legislative district in Baltimore City and is a Democratic activist, along with contributors to this op-ed: Leighann Garcia, Odette Ramos and Terrance Thrweatt.