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Baltimore Democrats choose lawyer Marlon Amprey to succeed Nick Mosby in House of Delegates

After a marathon meeting, Democratic leaders in Baltimore selected corporate attorney Marlon Amprey to succeed Nick Mosby in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Amprey, 33, is a third-generation Baltimore resident whose grandparents left the rural South and settled in West Baltimore during the Great Migration. A former teacher, he is the nephew of the late Baltimore City Schools Superintendent Walter Amprey.

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He won the nomination for Mosby’s former seat by a 4-3 vote Tuesday night. Afterward, he said his first thought was about continuing his ancestors’ legacy, and then how to promptly effect positive change.

“My goal here is to empower and improve the lives of as many people as possible,” Amprey told The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday.

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The Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee selected Amprey to fill the House seat in the state’s 40th Legislative District, which encompasses neighborhoods in West and Southwest Baltimore. Mosby resigned the seat this month, halfway through a four-year term, when he became president of the Baltimore City Council.

Fifteen candidates applied, but by nightfall Tuesday, one had withdrawn, leaving Amprey, Janet Allen, Joshua Harris, Derrick Johnson, Bill Marker, Nancy McCormick, John Moser, Gary Norman, Crystal Jackson Parker, Brian Sims, China Boak Terrell, Westley West, Kathryn Shulman and Sueann Yang. Myriam Ralston dropped out before the meeting.

Only the seven voting members of the central committee who live in the 40th District interviewed the candidates over Zoom. The panel included Parker, Monica Cooper, Ben Smith, Sherelle Witherspoon and City Council members John Bullock, Phylicia Porter and James Torrence.

After a brief, closed-door discussion between the panelists, the nomination came down to two candidates. Smith and the council members voted for Amprey, while the three other panelists cast ballots for Harris, a community leader who ran for the seat in 2018 as a Green Party candidate. They announced their votes around 10 p.m.

“I’m here this evening because I care deeply about this district,” Amprey said during his introduction, describing his deep connection to the area his relatives have called home since the 1940s. “I want to continue that legacy.”

After allowing each candidate an opportunity to introduce themselves, panelists asked them the same series of questions.

They asked about legislative experience and work in the community. Candidates were prompted to explain their plans if elected, including how to address recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, constituent services, work with others representing the district in Annapolis — delegates Frank Conaway Jr. and Melissa Wells, and Sen. Antonio Hayes (all Democrats) — and what committee they’d like to serve on.

As for the coronavirus, many candidates focused on future. They discussed challenges of distributing the vaccine equally, of supporting businesses shuttered by the restrictions imposed to curb the virus’ spread and of addressing the health disparities the disease laid bare.

Amprey said the pandemic was personal to him because he lost his grandmother to complications from the coronavirus. She was in a nursing home. As such, he said the priority must remain to inoculate the most vulnerable people against the virus.

Noting the effects of the pandemic were likely to persist, Amprey said he wanted to support homeowners and renters.

Amprey said Wednesday he wanted to bring resources and opportunities to West Baltimore so that residents can rise out of public housing communities with good-paying jobs, like his grandparents did. He said a key is ensuring that business owners resemble the community they serve, and ensuring that all residents have the chance to build wealth.

In an interview with The Sun, he said he would also focus on criminal justice reform by pushing for more police accountability and more reasonable sentences for crimes. He said he wanted to pour resources into prisons so prisoners could return to society as productive citizens.

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“We have to decriminalize poverty,” Amprey said.

Having picked Amprey, the central committee will send its selection to the desk of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who has final say over the appointment.

Delegates receive an annual salary of $50,330.

Amprey attended University of Maryland, where he studied government and politics. He went on to earn an education degree from George Mason University, a certificate of business management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania , according to his LinkedIn profile. He’s an associate at the law firm Cole Schotz.

He pledged to approach constituent services like he has while being a teacher and, now, a lawyer. He said accessibility is the key.

“I know what we need for our students,” Amprey said. “I know what we need to make our economic system more equitable.”

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