The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee is looking to fill yet another vacant seat in the Maryland General Assembly, this time in District 39 of the House of Delegates.
This will be the fourth representative who will be picked by the committee and not voters, this legislative session.
Former Del. Kirill Reznik (D-Dist. 39) left his seat Tuesday to join Gov. Wes Moore’s administration as the new assistant secretary for inter-departmental data Integration for the state Department of Human Services.
Since Reznik is a Democrat, the state constitution requires, the panel of 24 elected committee members from throughout Montgomery County to 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 Reznik’s term, ending in WHEN. according to a MCDCC news release.
District 39 includes parts of Germantown, Montgomery Village and other nearby areas.
Reznik was an appointee to the House in October 2007 and was re-elected by voters in each subsequent election. He served for 15 years.
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 39
- 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 “D39 Delegate Vacancy Application” no later than 5 p.m. April 4.
The District 39 Democratic Club will host a public forum for residents of District 39 to meet the applicants at 7 p.m. April 12 via Zoom Webinar. Attendees and applicants must register in advance at bit.ly/d39-04-12.
Candidates who meet the qualifications will be invited to interviews at the April 18 MCDCC special meeting. The MCDCC will vote to recommend an applicant to the governor immediately upon concluding the interviews.
This is the fourth time the committee will go through this process this legislative session, which began Jan. 11.
Former District 16 Del. Ariana Kelly was appointed to the District 16 Senate seat, which became vacant after former Sen. Susan Lee was named secretary of state for Maryland by Democratic Gov. Wes Moore on Jan. 10. As a result of Kelly’s selection to the Senate, her House seat was vacated.
Earlier this week, the committee nominated Sarah Wolek, former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and professor at University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, to fill Kelly’s house seat.
Bernice Mireku-North was nominated to fill a vacant seat in District 14 of the House of Delegates in January, after former Del. Eric Luedtke resigned the seat to become Moore’s chief legislative officer.
The MCDCC appointment process for General Assembly vacancies has not been without controversy.
Some legislators and observers have criticized the process as undemocratic because the public doesn’t get to vote, and 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.
Twelve of the current 34 state delegates and senators in Montgomery County applied through the MCDCC appointment process to get to their post (roughly 35%), according to an analysis by MoCo360. Of those, Del. Aaron Kaufman (D-Dist. 18) is an outlier, because he was placed on the 2022 primary election ballot and faced election, instead of Al Carr, a former delegate. Carr had dropped out of the District 18 House of Delegates race at the filing deadline, to pursue the County Council District 4 seat (his bid was unsuccessful). All the other legislators served some time in legislative session in Annapolis before facing voters in their districts for elections, MoCo360 reported earlier this month. Once the vacancy for the District 16 House seat is officially filled, it will be 13 of 35 legislative seats (about 37%).
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, 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, Terry 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.