First African-American and first female elected as new house speaker

Posted at 5:42 PM, May 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 08:25:34-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland House of Delegates has elected the first African-American and first female to serve as the 107th House Speaker.

Delegate (D-Baltimore County) Adrienne Jones will assume the official position as speaker of the House of Delegates following the unexpected death of late House Speaker Michael Busch, who served as speaker since 2003 until his passing in April 2019.

"It hasn't fully sunk in because this is all new," said Jones. "I thought one was when I left and came to Annapolis and so here we are now."

READ MORE: Longest-serving House Speaker Michael Busch dies at age of 72

In the weeks leading up to the election for speaker, Del. Dereck Davis of Prince George's County and Del. Maggie McIntosh of Baltimore City, both Democrats, were the front runners for that position.

The Republican Caucus met and decided to throw all of their votes to Davis. The Democratic Caucus met as well, knowing the leading candidate for speaker would need 71 votes to make it to speaker. Realizing the Republican vote would influence who became Speaker of the House, five hours later the Democrats threw a wrench into the equation.

Members of the House Minority Caucus voted unanimously in full support of Jones' election. They say during her time serving as Speaker Pro Tem since 2003, she made sure everyone's voice was heard and ensured fairness on the house floor.

“Our Caucus is proud to have been a critical piece in this historic election and we offer heartfelt congratulations to the new Speaker of the House,” said House Minority Leader Nic Kipke. “Speaker Jones is a tremendous public servant and she represents the will and voice of her constituents and community with clear determination. She is someone we know we can work with and who will want to work with us. Ultimately, we believe in compromise and getting big things done for the people of Maryland and we know that Speaker Jones does as well."

Jones has served in the House of Delegates since 1997 and has contributed to the push for many decisions in the State of Maryland. According to the Maryland State Education Association, they have seen increases in school construction funding under her leadership as chair of the Capital Budget Subcommittee.

“Speaker Busch set a high bar for leadership and courage; we believe Speaker Jones has the ability to do the same. Maryland faces some extraordinary opportunities and difficult challenges in the near future, chief among them the responsibility to enact a bold school funding plan with equal parts urgency and fiscal pragmatism. Maryland educators stand ready to ensure that every student in every neighborhood has a great public school and an equal opportunity for success.”

The AFSCME Maryland Council also says Jones was a champion for union members and working people across the state.

“This session, Speaker Jones worked tirelessly to, not only prevent a delay in salary increases for Maryland State and Higher Education Employees, but also to find funding for an additional long overdue increase,” said AFSCME Maryland Council 3 President Patrick Moran. “Now more than ever, we need a strong and effective leader, like Speaker Jones, to move Maryland forward for working people.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan released a statement congratulating Jones on her historic election.

“I extend my sincere congratulations to Adrienne Jones on becoming the 107th Speaker of the House of Delegates. The election of our first African-American and first female Speaker marks a proud and historic moment for our state. “It is also a moment of great opportunity; Adrienne has pledged to be a Speaker for all delegates, and that is exactly the kind of bipartisan, collaborative spirit our state needs right now. “I look forward to working with Speaker Jones on our shared priorities and with the entire General Assembly to continue finding bipartisan, common sense solutions.”