Did County Executive Staffer Work to Sway D30A Delegate Appointment to a Relative Unknown?

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Pete Baron, Director of Government Relations to County Executive Steuart Pittman (L), Dana Jones with her husband and son, after being sworn in by Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones.
Pete Baron, Director of Government Relations to County Executive Steuart Pittman (L), Dana Jones with her husband and son, after being sworn in by Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones.

It was shocking to many in Anne Arundel County District 30A who woke up April 17, 2020, after a six-hour closed-door meeting, to find their new delegate was a woman most had never heard of.

With 19 candidates, many who were well-known for putting years of service into County programs and initiatives (even two city Alderwomen from Annapolis) most were flabbergasted by the weak AA-County-related resume of Dana Jones who had swept the election with 7 votes in the very first round.

With none of the three D30 committee members voting for Jones, the obvious question was, how did this happen?

According to sources, the push for the unknown Jones came from Pete Baron, former Director of Member Services of former House Speaker Mike Busch, former campaign manager of Steuart Pittman’s 2018 campaign, and current Director of Government Relations to County Executive Steuart Pittman.

Baron apparently made behind the scenes calls to some committee members. One committee member corroborated that they did receive a call from Baron, who mentioned that he was calling on his own behalf, rather than on behalf of the office of the County Executive, to recommend Jones for the position.

Pittman said that he did not know Jones well before her appointment, but that she had volunteered on his campaign for debate preparation. Pittman also said that he was very careful not to endorse any candidate. 

However, in an email that was posted online after some backlash about the special meeting being held in violation of the Open Meeting Act, it appears that Committee Chair Thea Boykins-Wilson felt Jones had Pittman’s backing.

“Her work in the political landscape in the Federal, State and Local arenas,” wrote Chairwoman Boykins-Wilson, ” the Junior League, among other involvement and support from citizens and leaders in our community – to include County Executive Pittman spoke volumes to her candidacy.” (Note: Boykins-Wilson did not vote for Jones.)

The Central Committee has received significant bad press for the handling of this vacancy appointment. 

There has still been no real answer to the question that many other candidates and their supporters have: Why was Jones, a near complete-unknown with almost no community support in D30A, appointed?

And the question remains, did a staffer of the County Executive put his thumb on the scale, and why?

Yasemin Jamison and Carmen Skarlupka contributed to this report.

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