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5 things to know about Adrienne Jones, new speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates

Del. Adrienne Jones was elected as the new speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates on Wednesday afternoon. Get to know the Baltimore County Democrat.

1. Her election makes history

Jones is the first woman and the first African-American to serve as a presiding officer in the Maryland General Assembly. Both the House of Delegates and the state Senate had been led only by white men — until Wednesday.

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2. A top lieutenant to Busch

When Del. Michael E. Busch became speaker in 2003, he chose Jones to be his speaker pro tem. In that role, Jones was a key member of Busch's leadership team and filled in for him in presiding over House floor sessions when he was absent.

Jones was called upon to fill in for Busch more often this year, as he was absent due to health reasons, including the last few weeks of the 90-day General Assembly session. Busch died on April 7, the day before the final day of the session. Jones led the grief-stricken House members through their tasks on the final day of the session.

Jones also served as chairwoman of the capital budget subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, which oversees the budget for state-funded construction projects.

3. Baltimore County proud

Jones, 64, was raised in Baltimore County, graduating from Lansdowne High School and earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

She previously worked for the Baltimore County government, serving as director of the county’s Office of Minority Affairs from 1989 until 1995, director of the Office of Fair Practices and Community Affairs from 1995 until 2011, and deputy director of the Office of Human Resources from 2011 until 2014.

Jones lives in Woodstock.

4. Stepping down leads to moving up

Jones had sought the office of speaker in a three-way contest against Del. Maggie McIntosh of Baltimore and Del. Dereck Davis of Prince George’s County. But Jones withdrew from the race Friday after she realized she didn’t have the votes to win, and threw her support behind Davis.

Then when Democrats were split between McIntosh and Davis during a lengthy closed-door meeting on Wednesday, they each separately approached Jones about being the compromise candidate. And she ended up the victor.

5. No changes just yet

After she was elected and sworn in, Jones was asked if she had any announcements about committee chairs or other leadership posts. Jones said it was too soon to say. In fact, she said, she hadn’t even conceived that she might become speaker when the day had started.

At a minimum, Jones will need to fill the roles that she held, as speaker pro tem and capital budget chairwoman. But she also has the ability to reassign every leadership position and change the makeup of committees.

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