More candidates in District 12: Gisriel, McGuirk-Spence file

District 12 map

District 12

The three open delegate seats in legislative District 12 that runs from Arbutus to West Columbia continue to attract more candidates than any district in the state. Former Del. Mike Gisriel, an Annapolis lobbyist, filed Wednesday and Renée McGuirk-Spence, longtime government affairs director for the Maryland State Department of Education, filed her papers Tuesday.

Gisriel and McGuirk-Spence are two of seven Democrats who have filed in District 12, and more are expected.

“Quite frankly, the more the merrier,” said Gisriel, who just recently moved from Baltimore City to Catonsville, where his wife grew up. From 1987 to 1991, Gisriel represented the Towson area in the House of Delegates.

Michael Gisriel

Michael Gisriel

“I’m the only one running with any experience,” he said, and he promises to help the other two new delegates, who will be replacing retiring Dels. Liz Bobo, Steve DeBoy and Jimmy Malone.

Gisriel has worked in real estate and for years had an office in Columbia running Fountainhead Title Co. He has also worked as a lobbyist in Annapolis for clients including owners of multi-family housing.

“I can get things done,” Gisriel said. “I know how Annapolis works.”

A major blemish on his career occurred in 2009 when the Maryland Court of Appeals disbarred him for the way he handled a real estate case, including depositing to his own account a $1,000 check made out to his clients.

“I made a $1,000 mistake,” Gisriel said, and he repaid the money. “It was a misunderstanding” and the disbarment “was the worst thing that ever happened to me.”

The Court of Appeals opinion in the case used fairly harsh language in deciding to lift his license to practice law, but in a split decision, two of the seven judges, including Chief Judge Robert Bell, said Gisriel should be suspended but not disbarred.

Renee McGuirk

Renee McGuirk-Spence

Renée McGuirk-Spence is the eldest daughter of the late state Sen. Harry McGuirk, who earned the nickname “Soft Shoes” for his deft handling of legislation. He served in the legislature for 22 years and as an aide to Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

“I am ready to do my share for education, the environment, public safety, efficiency in state government (and I know that well) and the elderly who are grappling with health issues every day,” she says on her campaign website.

Other Democrats who have filed in District 12 are Brian Bailey, Rebecca Dongarra, Eric Ebersole, Terri Hill and Clarence Lam.

–Len Lazarick

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. Anon

    Spence (let’s be honest, she’s never gone by McGuirk until running for
    office!) is nothing more than a 20+ year legislative insider and the
    former MSDE superintendent’s political henchwoman. Nepotism wasn’t dead
    as Daddy “Soft Shoes” McGuirk clearly paved the way for her longtime
    state gig. Wonder if she’s anything like her racist, George Wallace
    supporting father and her chauvinistic “political mentor” Willy Don
    Schaefer? Why hasn’t she been involved in her community of Catonsville
    or southwestern Baltimore County in the many years she’s lived there?
    She’s clearly an opportunist. We don’t need political dynasties. And we
    don’t need to send another political insider to Annapolis. 2014 is far
    removed from her South Baltimore father’s political heyday and this
    election will represent change in District 12 and Renee Spence is just
    more of the same. Put on those “soft shoes” and just keep on walking

    • Marshall Dillon

      May I suggest you check your facts.

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