The General Assembly session opens Wednesday with one new senator and five new delegates serving in the 188-person legislature.
The senator is a member of the House who will be sworn in Wednesday. The new delegates have been in office anywhere from eight months to one day — but none was serving during the 2019 session.
Here is a look at the six newcomers — even though one isn’t so new:
Sen. Charles Sydnor III (D-Baltimore County) was appointed to the Senate late last month by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) to replace former Sen. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D), who resigned in November for health reasons. He will serve on the Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Sydnor, 45, was sworn into the House of Delegates in January 2015, where he served as a member of the Judiciary Committee. He was chairman on the subcommittee for criminal law and procedures, a member of the Legislative Black Caucus and also held the position of House majority deputy whip.
An attorney, Sydnor received his degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 2000. While in the House, Sydnor was a member of a number of criminal justice task forces, including the state commission on criminal sentencing policy and a commission to implement the use of police body cameras.
Sydnor has been a major player in the push for more funding for HBCUs, and is likely to keep that issue a priority during his first session in the Senate.
Del. Shaneka T. Henson (D-Anne Arundel) was sworn into the House in May 2019 after the death of former speaker Michael E. Busch (D). She will serve on the Appropriations Committee.
Native to Anne Arundel County, Henson, 36, is an attorney. She received a law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2010 and previously served as an alderwoman for the city of Annapolis. This session, she plans to advocate for affordable, equitable housing and will pursue legislation to standardize mold remediation across the state.
A member of the House since October, Del. Carl W. Jackson (D-Baltimore County) holds a position on the Economic Matters Committee, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee for Baltimore County and the Legislative Black Caucus. He replaced former Del. Eric M. Bromwell (D), who resigned earlier in the fall. He ran unsuccessfully in the House in 2018.
Jackson, 35, works as an administrative analyst at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and served as a member of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Staff Senate from 2014-19. He says his priorities for the upcoming legislative session surround the implementation of career technical education programming in public schools and financial accountability.
Del. Catherine M. Forbes (D-Baltimore County) became a member of the House of Delegates in late October. She will serve on the House Appropriations Committee and is a member of Women Legislators of Maryland. She took the place of former Del. Stephen W. Lafferty (D), who resigned to take a job with the Baltimore County government.
Forbes, 54, works as a mediation coordinator and law clerk in the orphans’ court of Baltimore County and founded Towson Families United –– a volunteer-run organization whose mission is to fight overcrowding in Towson-area elementary schools.
This legislative session, she will be looking to help craft a funding formula for the Kirwan Commission, and looking to support the Built to Learn Act concerning facility construction in Maryland public schools.
Del. Nicole A. Williams (D-Prince George’s), 42, was sworn into the House of Delegates early last month and will serve as a member of the Judiciary Committee. She is also a member of the Legislative Black Caucus and Women Legislators of Maryland. She filled the vacancy left by former Del. Tawanna P. Gaines (D), who was sentenced to six months in federal prison for wire fraud.
An attorney, Williams attended the University of Pittsburgh for both her undergraduate and law degrees. She also serves as the third vice chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and is on the board of directors for Emerge Maryland.
Williams ran unsuccessfully for a House seat in 2018. Her campaign platform centered around renewable energy, education reform, housing equity and accessible health care.
Sworn in on Tuesday afternoon, Del. Michael Griffith (R-Harford), 42, was appointed to the Maryland House of Delegates late last month by Hogan to replace former Del. Andrew Cassilly (R), who resigned to accept a position as an adviser to the governor.
Griffith served in the Marine Corps as a member of the military police from 1995 to 2002. He is currently the vice president and chief marketing officer of HPS Management –– a commercial real estate company in Havre de Grace. In late 2019 he was appointed to the chairman of the Republican Central Committee of Harford County.
Griffith will join the Judiciary Committee this session.
Still more new lawmakers are on the way. There are currently three vacancies in the legislature — a state Senate seat created by the resignation of former Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), a House seat created by the resignation of former Del. Cheryl D. Glenn (D-Baltimore City), and the vacancy created when Sydnor was elevated to the Senate.
Dels. Shelly L. Hettleman (D-Baltimore County) and Jon S. Cardin (D-Baltimore County) have applied to replace Zirkin in the Senate. If one of them gets the appointment, that will create yet another vacancy in the House.
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