An alderwoman in Annapolis, Maryland, has been chosen to fill the House of Delegates seat that was held by longtime House Speaker Mike Busch, who died earlier this month at the age of 72.
Alderwoman Shaneka Henson was selected by leaders in the Anne Arundel County Democratic Party.
Gov. Larry Hogan still must approve Henson as Busch’s replacement before it becomes official. If approved, she will become the first black woman to represent Annapolis in the General Assembly, reports the Capital Gazette.
In all, there were 14 candidates vying for the seat. The vote was 11-1.
“We had a host of fantastic candidates with diverse backgrounds and passion for helping others,” the party said in a Facebook post.
The party called Henson “unquestionably qualified,” and said that she would represent District 30A “with pride, courage and conviction.”
Henson, and all the candidates, gave an opening statement and answered a series of questions in front of the Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee.
“You should vote for me because I am committed to this district,” Henson told the committee. “Every single day, I will work as hard as I can to earn the confidence and the trust of the voters.”
Henson said her three top priorities were addressing inequities in the areas of criminal justice, housing costs and salaries.
“One of the things that I would like to see us do is to eliminate the practice of salary offerings based on your prior salary history,” she said. “If women are often paid less than men, and they decide to pay you based on your last salary, then you are forever stuck to the bottom of the wage gap.”
As for filling the role of House Speaker, Maryland will soon hold a special legislative session. Hogan signed an executive order calling for the General Assembly to convene May 1.
Busch had served as speaker since 2003, making him the longest-serving House of Delegates speaker in the state’s history.
Several Democratic lawmakers are vying for that position. Among them are Del. Dereck Davis of Prince George’s County and Del. Maggie McIntosh of Baltimore City.
Del. Adrienne Jones of Baltimore County had declared her candidacy, but announced Friday morning that she was dropping out of the race. She threw her support behind Del. Dereck Davis, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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