By Len Lazarick
Democratic Dels. Liz Bobo, Steve DeBoy and Jimmy Malone have disagreed on many of the big issues in their decades at the State House: taxes, gambling, gun control, same-sex marriage, the death penalty.
The three veteran delegates are giving up their seats representing the oddly shaped District 12 that stretches from West Columbia to Arbutus, but Monday they came together to endorse a candidate to replace them: Terri Hill, a Columbia plastic surgeon who grew up in its most liberal precincts.
Hill sees herself as a successor to Bobo, who said Hill has “a passion for social justice, economic justice and environmental justice.”
Character trumps ideology
DeBoy agreed that Hill’s political leanings are more like Bobo’s than his own and the more conservative constituents of Catonsville, Arbutus and Elkridge he’s represented. But “we need good people, honest people, decent people, hard-working people” in the legislature and that is more important than ideology, DeBoy said.
“We’re going to do everything to get her elected,” DeBoy said.
Jimmy Malone, who entered the House of Delegates in 1995 with Bobo, emceed Hill’s kick-off fundraiser that drew more than 100 people to Union Jack’s in Columbia.
He said constituent service was the most important job of a delegate, and people vote for politicians who provide it. “All politics is local,” Malone said. “We will do anything in our power to get Terri elected.”
Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, the chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee — “the second most powerful person in the Maryland Senate,” Malone called him — also endorsed Hill. “You need to have the character to get the job done,” Kasemeyer said.
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-7th, also endorsed Hill and was impressed with the turnout. He said he’d been to a lot of first-time fundraisers and “usually there are about 10 people.”
Cummings, a former speaker pro-tem in the House of Delegates, said, “We need people who are there for the right reasons.” Voters are “not looking for the headline grabbers.”
Hill agreed that her politics were more like Bobo’s than the other two delegates. But “if I’m elected I have to represent everybody,” Hill said.
A political family
Hill’s mother, Ethel Hill, was one of the first elected members of the Howard County Board of Education, and ran for the House of Delegates in 1994, being beaten by Liz Bobo. Hill’s sister, Donna Hill Staton, was appointed to the Howard County Circuit Court by Gov. Parris Glendening, but lost a contested election in 1996. Staton, who became a deputy attorney general for a decade, now serves on the state Board of Education.
Hill is the second physician to announce for delegate in District 12. Dr. Clarence Lam is also running for what are now three open seats. That many openings could easily attract 10 to 12 candidates.
In the redistricting following the 2010 Census, the single-member District 12B that Bobo represents in West Columbia was combined with the two-member District 12A dominated by Baltimore County precincts from which DeBoy and Malone hail.
DeBoy and Bobo said they had initially talked about running as an incumbent ticket in the three-member district, and “we would have won,” he insisted, despite their political differences.
But Bobo, a former Howard County executive and County Council member, announced late last year that she would retire. DeBoy and Malone announced April 9 they wouldn’t be coming back. Kasemeyer is running for re-election.
“Don’t think it’s going to be an easy road,” Kasemeyer told Hill.
Howard County turnover
Of Howard County’s 11 seats in the Maryland General Assembly — three senators and eight delegates — at least five seats are expected to turn over next year.
Sen. Jim Robey in District 13, another former Howard County executive, has announced his retirement. Everyone is waiting for Del. Guy Guzzone to announce his political plans for 2014, which he has promised to do by “the end of April.”
“I have another day,” Guzzone joked Monday night. He has long been mentioned as a possible candidate for Howard County executive, since Ken Ulman is term-limited. But observers now expect him either to stay in the House or run for Robey’s seat.
County school board member and physician Janet Siddiqui, the top county wide vote-getter for the board last year, announced last week she would run for a seat in District 13.
Sen. Allan Kittleman, the western Howard County Republican, is expected to run for Howard County executive, and Del. Gail Bates, R-District 9A, has said she will run for his seat. Trent Kittleman, the senator’s stepmother who ran for Howard County executive in 2010, filed last week to run for delegate to replace Bates in the two-member District 9A.