Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks on Friday threw her weight behind Del. Dereck Davis in his bid to become the state’s next House speaker.
At a press conference inside the Beacon Heights Elementary School library in Riverdale, Alsobrooks said Davis’ experience makes him the ideal person to succeed the late Michael Busch, who died this week at 72 of pneumonia following complications from a 2017 liver transplant.
Alsobrooks added it would be beneficial for a lawmaker from Prince George’s to hold state leadership.
“To have a person who is fair-minded and balanced and experienced to do that, I think it is important,” she said. “Those are qualities that I know [Davis] has. A person who’s … able to listen to both sides. He is a person who is very smart.”
Davis (D-District 25), of Mitchellville, currently chairs the House Economic Matters Committee, one of the most influential boards in Annapolis. Davis, 51, who didn’t attend the press conference, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday evening.
State lawmakers have declined commenting on the speaker position until after Busch’s funeral Tuesday at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Annapolis.
Two other lawmakers, Dels. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City) and Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County), have also expressed interest in the position. Jones currently serves as speaker pro tem and presided over the House sessions in Busch’s absence.
The House will hold a special session May 1 to decide Busch’s successor. The venerable Democrat, who had held the position since 2003, was the longest-serving speaker in state history.
Any one of the three delegates would make history if chosen, as no Black or female lawmaker has ever held the seat. According to the legislation handbook, the speaker’s duties include the appointment of committee leadership, assigning bills to committee and deciding all points of order.
Alsobrooks spoke about the county’s accomplishments during this year’s General Assembly, particularly its acquisition of about $1.5 billion in state aid, with $53 million earmarked for education.
One point of pride is that schools with at least 80 percent of the student population eligible for free or reduced lunch are slated to receive additional resources for students with disabilities, expansion of pre-kindergarten and salary raises for teachers, with Beacon Heights being one such school.
Monica Goldson, who was named interim CEO for the public school system in September, said this year’s General Assembly marked one of the best displays of partnership in quite some time.
One reason for the harmony was the transition in leadership, with Goldson, Alsobrooks and six lawmakers on the 11-member council now at the helm. Several of them attended Friday’s press conference, including Councilman Calvin Hawkins (At-large), Del. Julian Ivey (D-District 47A) of Cheverly and Sen. Obie Patterson (D-District 26) of Fort Washington, a former county councilman who was elected to the Senate in November.
“We continued to talk about the changes we were going to make in education, but this time we actually acted on it,” Goldson said. “The best way to do that was for us to focus this legislative session on getting funds that would begin to help close that achievement gap. I know how important it is to make sure that we get it right and this was our opportunity to do it.”
Although certain priorities such as more money for school construction didn’t get approved this year, Ivey said the goal will be to make that happen when lawmakers return to Annapolis in January. He’s maintained that one way to help pay for education initiatives is legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana.
For instance, he spoke of “isolated incidents” when he attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt where not every student received a textbook.
“This is the high school in the county most would agree is the best, based on academics and test scores,” Ivey, 23, said. “These are some of the priorities we need to focus on so that we can invest in our schools.”