The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee is looking to fill yet another vacant seat in the Maryland General Assembly, this time in District 16 of the House of Delegates.
Former District 16 Del. Ariana Kelly has been appointed to the District 16 Senate seat, which became vacant after former Sen. Susan Lee was named secretary of state for Maryland by Gov. Wes Moore on Jan. 10. Now Kelly’s seat is open.
Based on state constitution requirements, since Kelly is a Democrat, the panel of 24 committee members from throughout Montgomery County can nominate an individual to fill the vacancy and submit that name to the governor. The governor is required to make an appointment within 30 days after the vacancy. The person appointed will serve the rest of Lee’s term, ending in November 2026, according to a MCDCC news release.
The District 16 area includes Bethesda, Cabin John, Potomac and other nearby areas.
To be eligible to run for the vacancy, an applicant must be:
- a registered Democratic voter in the state of Maryland
- a resident of Legislative District 16
- at least 25 years old
Those interested in applying should submit a cover letter, a resume and any other supporting materials that they would like the MCDCC to consider by email to email@example.com with the subject line “D16 Delegate Vacancy Application” no later than 5 p.m. March 13.
Candidates who meet the qualifications will be invited to make a brief statement at the March 21 MCDCC meeting and answer questions from MCDCC members. The MCDCC will vote to recommend an applicant to the governor immediately upon concluding the interviews.
The District 16 Democratic Club will host a public forum for residents of District 16 to meet the applicants at 7:30 p.m. March 16 via Zoom Webinar. Attendees and applicants must register in advance at bit.ly/d16-03-16.
This is the third time the committee will go through this process this legislative session. In addition to appointing Kelly to take Lee’s Senate seat, Bernice Mireku-North was nominated to fill a vacant seat in District 14 of the House of Delegates in January.
Former Del. Eric Luedtke resigned the seat Jan. 2 to become Moore’s chief legislative officer.
The MCDCC appointment process for General Assembly vacancies has not been without controversy.
Some committee members have called on their colleagues to change the process so that someone serving on the body must resign before being considered for an open legislative seat. The state’s attorney general has said the committee can adopt a rule change without any action needed from lawmakers in Annapolis.
The interview process for the District 14 delegate vacancy was interrupted twice. The four-hour-plus Jan. 3 meeting was to be conducted in person and via Zoom simultaneously but was interrupted multiple times. First, some people hijacked the meeting broadcast on Zoom—with around 200 attendees watching—with obscenities and insults, causing a break in the ninth and final question posed by committee members to candidates.
In the second noteworthy disturbance, Doug Terry, a TV production and documentary film company owner, dropped out of the running. At one point, he accused Nathan Feldman, a District 15 committee member, of telling him during a break that he would not vote for him, and then walking away.
Terry called the committee’s appointment process undemocratic and a “kangaroo court” before withdrawing his name from consideration, and leaving.
Leading up to Kelly’s appointment to the District 16 senate seat last month, fellow candidates Scott Webber and Jason Woodward alleged that Kelly had verbally berated Woodward over the phone. Kelly denied the allegations. and they were not brought up during the interview and voting process. Saman Qadeer Ahmad, chair of the county’s Democratic Central Committee, told MoCo360 that the committee was not the appropriate venue to adjudicate the allegation.