Maryland Legislative District 22, which encompasses parts of Prince George’s County, will soon have a new representative in the Maryland House of Delegates.

This open seat comes after Paul Pinsky, the district’s longtime state senator, resigned from his position after Gov. Wes Moore nominated him to lead the Maryland Energy Administration. Alonzo Washington, the former District 22 delegate, was appointed to fill Pinsky’s seat in the Senate, leaving a vacancy in the House of Delegates.

The Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee is in charge of nominating a candidate to fill the House of Delegates vacancy. Then, Moore will choose whether to confirm the appointment.

Candidates have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to submit their applications to the PGCDCC. The committee will choose which candidate to appoint at a public hearing on Feb. 9.

District 22 includes parts of College Park, Hyattsville, New Carrollton, Riverdale Park and Greenbelt. Here are some of the contenders for the vacant seat.

Rush Baker

Rush Baker considers himself a lifelong Prince George’s County resident. Since age 7, Baker has been knocking on doors in District 22 as part of his father, Rushern Baker’s, political campaigns. Rushern Baker represented District 22 in the House of Delegates before serving two terms as Prince George’s county executive.

Despite Baker’s political involvement in his youth, he did not always want to run for office. Instead, he pursued a career in art and became a lecturer at this university’s art department. Now, he is a managing partner at Baker Strategy Group — a consulting firm founded by his father. One project involves working with the University of Maryland to bring an art museum to College Park.

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Baker plans to focus on expanding educational opportunities, ensuring equity in the cannabis market and reversing historical redlining tactics to help underrepresented homebuyers. He also is interested in the ongoing conversation about shifting to a four-day workweek.

He previously sought the House of Delegates seat in 2014 and placed fourth in the Democratic primary.

Baker acknowledges he differs from his competitors in their tactics, but not in their politics.

“I think there’s a time and a place for activism,” he said. “Our county delegation right now, what they need are leaders who know how to navigate Annapolis and deliver results for the residents of Prince George’s County and the 22nd district.”

Ashanti Martinez

Ashanti Martinez, an activist born and raised in Prince George’s County, is also a candidate for the District 22 seat.

Martinez is the current chief of staff for Prince George’s County council member Krystal Oriadha, and also worked at CASA, a Latino and immigrant advocacy group. He believes his commitment to the community makes him the best candidate for the House seat.

Over the past few years, Martinez has worked to ensure residents had access to COVID-19 vaccines and testing, as well as hygiene products and food.

“Unlike a lot of these other folks who might aspire to have a position for the power, I’m truly in this for service to others, and the ability to vote on and create legislation that’s going to move our community, our county, our state forward,” he said.

Martinez ran unsuccessfully for the House of Delegates seat in both 2018 and in 2022. When the vacant seat opened up, he jumped at the opportunity.

So far, Martinez has received positive reception from members of the PGCDCC, he said. He also earned the endorsement of Maryland Sen. Alonzo Washington, who previously held the seat Martinez is seeking.

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Martinez says his lived experiences being openly gay and Afro-Latino set him apart from his opponents. If elected, Martinez will be the first openly gay state delegate or senator from Prince George’s County.

Martinez plans to focus on increasing affordable housing, stabilizing housing costs and making sure highways are safe and clean for drivers and pedestrians. He also wants to prioritize finding innovative ways to address crime, such as using arts to provide opportunities for youth, so they know there are other options.
“This community has given me so much,” Martinez said. “I see this as an opportunity to serve as just another extension of me giving back to a community that’s given so much to me.”

Molly McKee-Seabrook

Molly McKee-Seabrook, the associate director for this university’s government relations office, is raising her two children in Hyattsville, Maryland, and is seeking the District 22 vacancy to advocate for child care affordability.

McKee-Seabrook, who also grew up in Hyattsville, was driven to seek the vacancy by the high tuition she is paying for her children’s pre-school.

“People talk about saving for college,” she said. “But I was not saving for my future children’s [pre-school] when I was in middle school … Families are in an incredibly difficult situation right now where childcare is incredibly expensive.”

In her current role at this university, McKee-Seabrook advocates on behalf of the school and for public higher education in Annapolis. Before this job, she served as state Sen. Bill Ferguson’s chief of staff.

McKee-Seabrook noted that she has more policymaking experience than her opponents. She also has built relationships with legislators and their staff through her years working in the state capital.

“I just feel my experience in Annapolis coupled with my experience as a mom … makes me a good candidate for delegate because we need to focus on what families’ needs are in this moment,” she said.