An upcoming vacancy for a House of Delegates seat in Maryland’s 14th House of Delegates District has caused a new member of the county’s Democratic Central Committee to seek a rule change to a typical appointment process. The ensuing result appears to be a fight about how future vacancies should be filled.
Liza Smith represents the county’s Central Committee 14th district. That region includes parts of Damascus, along with Laytonsville, Olney, Cloverly, Fairland and Burtonsville. Although a newer member following her election in July, Smith is leading the call for the rule change.
The rule change reads: “MCDCC Members putting their names in for consideration for an appointment shall inform the Chair of their intentions and resign their position on the Committee.”
Critics of the current system argue that allowing committee members to appoint themselves makes the process less transparent and prevents people who could be more qualified — or have run prior campaigns for local seats and lost — from fair consideration.
Proponents of the system state that central committee members put in considerable time organizing for the local Democratic Party, and advocating for issues, and that experience on the committee should be considered.
Montgomery Perspective, a local political blog, was first to write about the process to fill the seat earlier this month.
Smith has put out an online petition for her change, which has garnered over 100 signatures. She also has gotten the public support of Somerset mayor Jeffrey Slavin.
Smith said she is proposing the rule change to make the process more transparent to the public. Many county residents don’t know how the current system works — but when they do, they often object to it, she said.
Smith said she believes Arthur Edmunds, current chair of the committee and also represents in District 14, wants to succeed Eric Luedtke, the current delegate, for that seat. Luedtke is leaving his position as delegate next month to take a role in Gov.-elect Wes Moore’s administration.
Edmunds could not immediately be reached for comment via two phone calls and a text message on Thursday. Luedtke declined to comment on who he thinks should succeed him. He added that the central committee has a great list of applicants to choose from to fill his seat.
“I think that’s ultimately a question for the state legislature, but for the central committee, this is the process they have, and I think they have done it deliberately and in a transparent manner,” Luedtke said about the appointment process.
Smith said if the Rules Committee does not want to consider her rule change in the next few days, she will bring up the issue at the central committee’s next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 13.
The following dates apply to the committee’s overall process for selecting a new delegate for District 14, which will be sent to the governor’s desk:
- Dec. 16 – 5 p.m. is the deadline for applicants to apply to the seat
- There is a public forum for candidates at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 21
- Letters of support for a candidate will be received until 5 p.m. on Dec. 29
- The committee meets on Jan. 3 to select a candidate