By Mark Rose
Freshman Delegate Angela Angel plans to challenge four-term former Delegate Melony Griffith in the Democratic primary for the Prince George’s County Senate seat held by retiring Sen. Ulysses Currie.
Angel, a lawyer who has worked on legislative policy, says her record as a first-term delegate and her ability to get things done make her the better choice.
Angel, 37, said she plans to officially announce her candidacy in mid-November.
In a telephone interview, Griffith, 54, said the race is a contest between two very able candidates in which the voters need to choose.
“Prince George’s is rich with talent, and District 25 is known for producing strong, experienced leaders,” Griffith said. “The election of 2018 will be a competitive race of talented individuals dedicated to serving their constituents.”
In 16 years of serving District 25 in the House of Delegates, Griffith said she has worked with other delegates and brought millions of dollars back to the district and put significant new laws on the books.
Griffith spent most of her tenure on the House Appropriations Committee, where she chaired the committee on pensions and was vice chair of the capital budget committee. She also chaired the Prince George’s House delegation, the second largest in the legislature, for five years.
Griffith ran unsuccessfully against Currie in 2014, but this year has been endorsed by much of the political establishment that did not support her last time. She is currently the vice president for external and governmental affairs at Greater Baden Medical Services, and previously directed the Prince George’s County Health Department’s Center for Healthy Lifestyle Initiatives
Angel wants action
In an earlier interview, Griffith said legislating and meaningful change take time. That’s true sometimes, Angel said, but there are a lot of things that can get done right away.
Angel has been primary sponsor of dozens of bills, according to General Assembly records. She was lead sponsor this year of 19 bills, of which seven were signed by Gov. Larry Hogan. In 2016, she was primary sponsor of 15 bills, one of which Hogan signed. She has co-sponsored over 250 other bills.
CLARIFICATION: Angel believes this story should have included the eight local bills she sponsored in the Prince George County delegation this year. Six of them were introduced to the full House as delegation bills, and two became law.
She told Maryland Reporter she sees herself as a servant of God and her constituents. “I’m a woman of faith,” she said in a recent sit-down interview. “We were brought to positions of power and influence so we can serve our constituents.”
Angel was legislative director for the Prince George’s County delegation in 2010-11 Her bio page says she was also Gov. Martin O’Malley’s principal coordinator for policy and politics in the county in 2010.
From there the delegate went to work as a client services specialist for the Prince George’s County Council from 2011 -14. She has worked as legislative affairs counsel for Prince George’s Department of Environmental Protection since 2014.
Angel was trained as an attorney at Benjamin Cardozo Law School in New York City. “I understand the actual policy-making as well as the results. It gives me a deep understanding of how government delivers to serve its mission of serving the people.”
She wanted to be a litigator – she relishes fighting on the right side in court. She was a prosecutor in Manhattan, advocating usually for victims of child abuse and neglect.
She looks at a bill going through the process and asks herself ‘what can be changed?’
“People know that when I come with a bill, I know what I’m talking about. And I can work with all kinds of people.”
District 25, a geographically large swath of land, is under-developed for its potential, Angel added. She said it needs more investment from the state legislature.
Angel has been working on energy issues for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, based in D.C. She’d like to help with the Obama administration initiative Smart Cities, a data-driven infrastructure program that improves residents’ energy efficiency. It requires sensors and access to Wi-fi; her office is working on bills to create zones for them in District 25.
She and Griffith know each other well and respect each other, but have different styles. “I’m thinking of what our people need; I’ve shown that I’m the most effective legislator,” Angel said.
Referring to Griffith’s long tenure as a delegate, she added, “We’ve seen what experience can bring; I bring effectiveness.”