Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan appointed Karen Toles on Tuesday to the House of Delegates, one day before the 90-day legislative session began in Annapolis.
“I am confident that Ms. Toles will represent the citizens of Prince George’s County well in her new role as delegate,” Hogan said in a statement. “I offer her my sincere congratulations and look forward to working with her and the General Assembly this legislative session.”
In the meantime, the former Prince George’s County Council member continues to prepare herself for an education on statewide policy and politics.
As a council member from 2010 to 2018 who represented District 7 that includes Suitland and Hillcrest Heights, she will represent the 25th Legislative District which not only incorporates those communities, but also Largo, Joint Base Andrews and parts of Upper Marlboro.
Compared to an all-Democratic council that had nine members when Toles served, she will draft policies with a statewide impact and fight for resources alongside 140 other delegates comprised of both Democrats and Republicans.
“This is so new. I have to go in there knowing that this is statewide [and a] much bigger role than I played on a local level,” she said. “My number one priority is to bring as many resources back to Prince George’s County as possible. You understand how critically important state dollars are to local government.”
The county’s Democratic Central Committee unanimously nominated Toles on Jan. 4. Once Hogan’s office received her name, he had 15 days to confirm the selection and appoint Toles.
Lawmakers returned from the 90-day legislative session in Annapolis which began Wednesday, Jan. 12.
Because Davis’s term expires this year, Toles will need to run for the seat in the June 28 primary.
“I’m really interested in having a conversation with the entire District 25 constituency,” Toles said. “What are your issues? What do you want me to focus on for you? What is the most pressing problem you’re having so I can work with my partners?”
The current 25th District team includes Dels. Darryl Barnes, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, and Nick Charles, chair of the county’s House delegation.
The other member, Senate President Pro tem Melony Griffith, spoke on Toles’ behalf during last week’s central committee session. Prior to Toles election to the council, Griffith helped mentor Toles when she worked as a policy advisor for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
“When chairman Davis resigned to take the seat of treasurer, we knew that we needed somebody who had a heart for constituent services, experience serving the community and was a fiscal leader,” Griffith said. “We found all of that in one person.”
Prince George’s State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy also endorsed Toles, who worked as a community affairs director in the state’s attorney office.
Braveboy said Toles did “grunt work” in the office that included assisting attorneys as they prepared for court proceedings. Toles recently graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law.
“Yes, Karen Toles was pushing papers,” Braveboy said. “It’s important to note because that shows you don’t think any job is beneath you. “You really care about criminal law, which I think is extremely important as we go through this period of reform. That’s what’s going to make you successful.”