Del. John W. E. Cluster Jr., a Baltimore County Republican, will resign his seat in the House of Delegates to accept an appointment to the state Parole Commission, the lawmaker said Monday.
Cluster, a former county police officer who has been an outspoken proponent of strict law-and-order policies, said Gov. Larry Hogan has named him to the parole board starting Aug. 1.
First appointed to the House in 2003 to represent the Perry Hall-Parkville area of the northeast county, Cluster lost his first bid for election in 2006. He regained his seat in 2010 and has held its since.
In a statement, Hogan praised Cluster for being a "devoted public servant for his entire career."
"Having spent 40 years of his live in service to his community, county and to the State of Maryland, Delegate Cluster will be a strong advocate for Marylanders as a member of the Parole Commission," Hogan said in the statement.
Cluster said he was making his announcement with mixed emotions.
"I will especially miss representing the men and women in law enforcement who serve and protect us every hour of every day here in Maryland," he said in a statement.
The Baltimore County Republican Central Committee is already looking for applicants to fill the seat that Cluster is vacating.
Applicants, who must be at least 21 years old, must have been registered as a Republican and have lived in the 8th legislative district for at least six months, said Al Mendelsohn, committee chairman. The district includes communities in the northeastern part of the county, including White Marsh, Perry Hall, Parkville, Carney and Overlea.
Applicants should send a cover letter and resume to BaltimoreCountyGOP@gmail.com by July 21.
Central committee members plan to interview applicants and recommend three names to the governor in August, Mendelsohn said. The governor will appoint the new delegate.
Mendelsohn said he's excited for Cluster to join the parole commission.
"He's really well suited for it," Mendelsohn said. "He spent all those years locking people up and he's been so active in the legislature on criminal justice issues. He's going to give the parole commission a different perspective."
Members of the parole commission are appointed to six-year terms. The current commissioners make between $92,000 and $98,000 per year, according to state salary records.