On June 15th, The Baltimore Sun reported that five women have accused Del. Curt Anderson of varying sexual misconduct, including assault, going back to at least 2004. This was hardly a surprise to me, however. One of the first things I was taught as a woman organizing and working in the political and community scene of the 43rd District is to avoid Delegate Anderson at all costs. Don't sit next to him at the table, don't take individual meetings with him, and don't take your constituent issues to him.
But now, voters have essentially chosen to give him another four years. He was among the top three Democratic Primary vote getters, according to final election results. This is unacceptable, particularly in a district that also features strong female leaders as part of the delegation team.
If the Maryland General Assembly Ethics Panel took quicker action to investigate the allegations against Delegate Anderson and release the results of their findings, I believe — despite his denials of the allegations — he would not have been re-elected. Instead, the panel members, officials elected to act in our best interests, have been "investigating" him for months, with no resolution. Is this ignorance, allegiance or denial?
Two other legislators in the 43rd, Del. Maggie McIntosh and Sen. Joan Carter Conway, who lost her seat in the recent election, were complicit in Delegate Anderson's re-election, in spite of the widespread allegations of harassment. They talked with him about the claims, according to The Sun, and then simply accepted his offer to run on a separate ticket.
Ms. Conway even went so far as to appear to blame the victims. "He didn't want it to stick to us as though we were upholding someone accused of mistreating women," she reportedly said. "We all know allegations are damaging" even if they're not true.
For numerous prior election cycles, however, these three pooled resources and shared an election slate with Delegate Anderson, and through January 2018 their names appeared on nearly all of Delegate Anderson's campaign finance reports.
Mary Washington, too, has previously been included on this slate as a delegate. Now a senator elect, she is the only elected representative in the 43rd to openly condemn the pace of the ethics investigation into Mr. Anderson and ask for an interim report on its progress from the General Assembly.
As many quiet defenders of the establishment point out, Annapolis is a place of old-school politics. In January, the Washington Post interviewed an anonymous representative who explained that when it comes to sexual harassment and misconduct, "There is not really a safe environment to discuss the issue. For me to come out and identify, it would be me basically deciding to lose my career and credibility. And that's the way it is understood in Annapolis."
I've been a victim of sexual harassment and assault. Thankfully, my perpetrators are not elected to represent me. We owe it to the survivors, the women representatives in government and to the people of the 43rd to not send Delegate Anderson back to Annapolis. If culture change in Annapolis has to start in Baltimore, so be it.
We need all our elected officials to take a stand — not just a Facebook status denouncing assault, but a condemnation of Delegate Anderson. We need Delegate Anderson to reject the nomination and de-facto seat in the House of Delegates. We need the members of the 43rd District Central Committee to appoint a progressive leader to fill the delegate seat.
One in six women and one in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. These numbers will never go down if we allow predators to maintain positions of power.
K.C. Kelleher is a resident and community organizer in the 43rd District. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.