ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland House of Delegates elected Baltimore County Delegate Adrienne Jones as the first female and African American Speaker of the House on May 1.
“As you all know we’ve been in there a few hours back and forth,” she said in a press conference following her nomination. “Everyone is very passionate, and I’m looking forward to working with all the members, especially our newest members.”
Her nomination comes after the sudden death of House Speaker Michael E. Busch on April 7 at the age of 72 after receiving treatment for pneumonia. Busch served as the Speaker of the House since 2003 and supported ending the death penalty and helped to pass a statewide $15 minimum wage.
Jones won the election over Dereck Davis (D-25) and Maggie McIntosh (D-43). She had initially dropped out of the race to support Davis as the next house speaker. However, a great divide was caused throughout the House of Delegates as votes were split between voting for Davis and McIntosh.
In the end, the two handed their support over to Jones calling for unity among the House of Delegates. Jones ended up winning the election unanimously with a vote of 139-0.
Davis, who has been a member of the House of Delegates since 1995, represents Prince George’s County in District 25. Currently, he serves as the chair of the House Economic Matters Committee. McIntosh serves as the chair of the House Appropriations Committee and has been a member of the House of Delegates since 1992.
“Adrienne has been our speaker pro tem under our past Speaker, and she has done more than a stellar job,” McIntosh said.
Prior to being elected to serve as the 107th Speaker of the House, Jones had been speaker pro tem for the House of Delegates since 2003. She also served as chair of the Capital Budget Subcommittee. She has been a member of the House of Delegates since 1997.
Before becoming a member of the House, she was the director of the Office of Minority Affairs in Baltimore County and executive director of the Office of Fair Practices and Community Affairs in Baltimore County.
“I believe that she has not only the vision but also the temperament to lead both the House and the Democratic Caucus into the future,” Maryland Democratic Party Chair Maya Rockeymoore Cummings. “Now that the race has concluded, I believe that the Democratic Caucus will rally around our new Speaker and continue to push smart— progressive— policies to improve the lives of all Marylanders.”
Jones received unanimous support from the House Minority Caucus as the first African American and the first woman ever elected to the position. She was congratulated by House Minority Leader Nic Kipke and House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga as well as other House Minority delegates following the victory.
“Our Caucus is proud to have been a critical piece in this historic election and we offer heartfelt congratulations to the new Speaker of the House,” said Kipke.
“Speaker Jones is a tremendous public servant, and she represents the will and voice of her constituents and community with clear determination. She is someone we know we can work with and who will want to work with us. Ultimately, we believe in compromise and getting big things done for the people of Maryland, and we know that Speaker Jones does as well.”
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who served as Speaker of the House from 1979 to 1986, offered his support to Jones calling her “a true public servant” and saying she will be a strong successor to Busch who will leave a legacy in Annapolis for years to come.
“I fully expect Speaker Jones to bring the same intensity and skills with which she navigated the Capital Budget Subcommittee to the full House of Delegates,” Cardin said. “She will be the leader we need to prioritize a quality public education for our students, create opportunities for all Marylanders, strengthen our economy, and protect public health and our natural resources.”
Governor Larry Hogan also extended his congratulations to Jones calling her victory “a proud and historic moment for our state.”
“It is also a moment of great opportunity; Adrienne has pledged to be a Speaker for all delegates, and that is exactly the kind of bipartisan, collaborative spirit our state needs right now,” Hogan said.