For the first time in history, two Black Anne Arundel lawmakers will lead the county delegation at the State House.
Maryland City’s Del. Sandy Bartlett will be the first Black person to serve as chair of the Anne Arundel County Delegation in the House of Delegates when she assumes her role at the start of the 2021 session next month. She will be joined by Del. Mike Rogers, D-Laurel, the first Black person to serve as vice chair.
Their peers unanimously elected both Democrats in a brief Zoom meeting on Monday, Bartlett said. She was previously the first Black woman to serve as chair when she temporarily filled in for then chair Del. Ned Carey, D-Brooklyn Park, during a meeting earlier this year.
Now, she will be the first to serve in an elected capacity. Bartlett and Rogers, both Democrats, were selected as that party holds a majority in the delegation and leadership positions usually change each session. The vote was included both Republicans and Democrats.
Though she recognizes the historic nature of her post and said she hopes that diversity in leadership in Maryland continues, she wants to focus on the work ahead of all the lawmakers in the upcoming session.
She was also a co-sponsor of Maryland’s Crown Act, a new law that safeguards hairstyles designed to protect the ends of hair by decreasing tangling, shedding and breakage, including braids, twists and dreadlocks.
Rogers said he is looking happy to serve alongside Bartlett and is ready to rise to the challenge the pandemic brings.
Rogers was first elected to the legislature in 2018 and he serves on the House Economic Matters Committee. He retired from the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps in 2015 as a colonel after 30 years of service. He previouslyserved on the board of directors of the Military Officers Association of America.
Del. Heather Bagnall, D-Arnold, said the fact that both Bartlett and Rogers are willing to step up during the coronavirus pandemic is laudable, and she was thrilled to be able to second Bartlett’s nomination.
She said their election represents “historic change” for Anne Arundel County. Both freshman-term delegates, Bartlett said they have complementary leadership styles that will serve the delegation well in the upcoming year.
Because of the pandemic, General Assembly leadership will limit public attendance at the State House. Plastic barriers will be erected between desks in the Senate, and half of the House members will participate in floor sessions from remote locations. Leaders said they hope the changes will allow lawmakers to fulfill legal obligations to meet and pass the state budget while also tackle legislation related to education, public health and policing reform.
The Anne Arundel County Delegation will hold its annual legislative priorities meeting at 5 p.m. Dec. 17. Each organization will have three minutes to make their priority request to the delegation, followed by two minutes of questions. The meeting will be held online because of coronavirus restrictions. Handouts should be emailed no later than Dec. 15.