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Longtime county activist Sheila Ruth was chosen on Saturday to serve out the remainder of Catonsville attorney Charles Sydnor’s term in the House of Delegates.
Longtime county activist Sheila Ruth was chosen on Saturday to serve out the remainder of Catonsville attorney Charles Sydnor’s term in the House of Delegates. (Courtesy Photo/Sheila Ruth)

Democratic Party officials in Baltimore County on Saturday chose longtime county activist Sheila Ruth to serve out the remainder of Catonsville attorney Charles Sydnor’s term in the House of Delegates, following Sydnor’s special appointment to the state Senate last month.

Members of the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee from District 44B, which borders West Baltimore stretching south from near Randallstown and west toward Ellicott City, selected Ruth — herself a member of the district committee — after hours of interviews with eight different applicants for Sydnor’s seat.

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Sydnor vacated his House seat after he was named to take over the Senate seat of longtime Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, who resigned due to health reasons.

Ruth, 56, of Catonsville and a web developer by trade who is married with a grown son, is known as a progressive and has run for office before, including for County Council in 2018.

“I’m very happy," she said of her selection Saturday night. “I’ve been working as an activist and working towards greater justice and equity and a livable planet, and it’s going to give me an opportunity to really work from the inside and try to make a difference.”

She said she is “very concerned about progressive issues,” and that the climate is “a big issue” for her. “We have to do everything we can to both mitigate the issues of climate change and also the impact of it as well,” she said.

She also said she supports the Kirwan Commission recommendations for increased public education funding, and the Built to Learn Act — which calls for $2.2 billion in additional funding for new school construction.

“Studies show that the environment that children learn in impacts their ability to learn,” she said.

The four-member district committee was split on two ballots, with Ruth and another member voting for her and the other two members, including Aisha Khan, voting for Khan. Central Committee Chair Tara Ebersole then cast a deciding vote in favor of Ruth, Ebersole said.

“The person who is going to win this seat has to go to Annapolis pretty much immediately. There’s no time to prepare, there’s no grace period,” Ebersole said — and Ruth is ready.

“She has been an activist for a long time. It has been an important part of her life. She’s spent a lot of time in Annapolis. She knows a lot of legislators. She knows the legislation.”

The district committee’s recommendation will now go to a ratification vote of the full central committee, of which Ruth is also a member, on Tuesday. If ratified, Ruth’s name would be forwarded to Gov. Larry Hogan for approval. She would then serve the remainder of Sydnor’s term, which is up in 2022.

The central committee also will be voting Tuesday to ratify the recommendation of state Del. Shelly Hettleman to fill former Sen. Bobby Zirkin’s state Senate seat in District 11. Zirkin stepped down this month.

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