Following the appointment of longtime Sen. Paul Pinsky (D) to lead the Maryland Energy Administration and Delegate Alonzo Washington (D) to his Senate seat, a vacancy was left in District 22 in the Maryland General Assembly, and the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee voted to appoint Ashanti Martinez (D) to the House of Delegates.
Sworn in Friday, Martinez is the first Afro-Latino to represent District 22 and first openly LGBTQIA+ individual to represent Prince George’s in the House of Delegates. The barrier-breaking leader said his experiences growing up and serving in Maryland will guide his tenure and priorities in office.
The DMV is Martinez’s home. Before studying at Howard University, Martinez attended school at St. Mary’s Landover Hills on Annapolis Road and graduated from Parkdale High School in Riverdale. While at Parkdale, Martinez was active in student organizations, including the Student Government Association.
“Parkdale taught me my voice mattered. Throughout my career as a nonprofit lobbyist, legislative staffer and community advocate, I’ve used my voice to bring people together to deliver results,” he explained.
Helping others has always been a priority for Martinez. Alongside personal activism, the delegate has worked with CASA as an advocate, supported immigration reform in Congress, and fought for completing the Purple Line without displacing working-class communities around it.
Martinez ran for the House of Delegates twice and also worked heavily with Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-District 21) during her run for Congress. Peña-Melnyk is now the chair of the Health and Government Operations Committee.
While he has plenty of legislative experience, he is unlikely to introduce legislation this year as the bill filing deadline has already passed. Instead, he plans to use his committee assignment to review existing bills and make sure his district and county are included. Martinez is open to serving on any of the various House committees. The Ways and Means Committee is his most likely assignment as that committee has fewer members than the other five major committees.
When asked what his district needs from its newest delegate, he said, “District 22 needs a delegate who is focused on championing issues for working-class families such as stabilizing housing costs, tackling food insecurity, stopping corporate price gouging, and addressing our need for road and infrastructure improvements.”
He pledges to prioritize community voices in his term of service.
While Martinez will be among the youngest delegates in Annapolis this session, he is not the youngest. Del. Joe Vogel and Jeff Long are both Gen Zers, while Martinez, only slightly older, is a millennial.
Martinez’s advice for young candidates: “Simply be yourself, be comfortable showing up as your full authentic self. Your lived experience is what makes your perspective unique and your voice is needed in the halls of power.”
The millennial leader has already proven himself worthy among the likes of Central Committee Chair Kent Roberson.
“Mr. Martinez has demonstrated his dedication to advocacy for the citizens of Prince George’s County and the state of Maryland. We are sure that his dedication will continue in his new role as delegate,” Roberson said.