Thank you for asking questions and seeking an answer. An informed populous makes good decisions.
Who is Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti?
Delegate Lisanti is a resident of Havre de Grace who has entered her second term of office as a Democrat in November 2018. She is a co-delegate with Delegate Steve Johnson.
What is her political career?
She served as the City Manager for Havre de Grace, two terms as a Harford County Councilmember and now as a State Delegate for District 34A representing Aberdeen, parts of Abingdon, Bel Camp/Riverside, Bush River, Edgewood, Havre de Grace and parts of Joppa. She has been an elected official for over 12 years.
What does it mean to censure a delegate?
In this case, it is a formal and open rebuke of Delegate Lisanti’s choice of words. She can still vote on the House floor. However, not as a result of the censure but rather via the discretion of the Michael (Mike) Busch, Speaker of the House of Delegates, Delegate Lisanti was taken off the Economic Matters Committee and her Chairship of the Unemployment Insurance Subcommittee was reassigned. She has no vote on any committee but still lobbies for her bills and bond measures. The censure is for her entire term and she may be placed back onto her committee.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO EXPEL A DELEGATE?
In this case, guidelines over expelling a member of the House of Delegates reside in the Maryland Constitution, Article 3, Section 19 states the following: Each House shall be judge of the qualifications and elections of its members, as prescribed by the Constitution and Laws of the State, and shall appoint its own officers, determine the rules of its own proceedings, punish a member for disorderly or disrespectful behavior and with the consent of two–thirds of its whole number of members elected, expel a member; but no member shall be expelled a second time for the same offence. (1977, ch. 681, ratified Nov. 7, 1978.)
WHAT IS THE PROCESS TO FILL A VACANCY UPON EXPULSION?
The Harford County Democratic Central Committee will implement a process to accept applications for Democrats in District 34A who would like to self-nominate for the position of State Delegate. This process would also involve interviews and upon a vote of the Harford County Democratic Central Committee, their recommended person would go to Governor Hogan for appointment. Hence, a Democrat will fill the vacancy.
WHY DON’T YOU FORGIVE HER?
Delegate Lisanti has been forgiven. However, the line has been drawn in the sand regarding appropriate consequences. The pentacle of racist remarks is met when an elected officials refers to a district as well as voters with the N-word. It is careless and has negative implications on policy that particularly impact those of African-American descent. Additionally, when someone reflects who they are (intoxicated or not), one should believe him/her.
WHY DON’T YOU WAIT UNTIL HER TERM IS OVER?
If the problem exists now, why not deal with it now? The problem relies in her – not in her humanness, because we all make mistakes, but as long as she is in office, she casts a negative light on the ability to represent us given her aptitude to be racist. Why risk the passage of adverse policies or not supporting good bills when a vacant seat can be filled by someone not exhibiting such characteristics?
HOW CAN WE KEEP THIS SEAT DEMOCRATIC?
By supporting good Democratic candidates. Delegate Lisanti is not going to end her career with this seat. Someone will run again and there is no guarantee on who will win. The goal is to fill the vacancy with a qualified person using a transparent and fair process. The goal is not to “replace” Delegate Mary Ann Lisanti. The bar is unreasonable when we expect good quality candidates to constantly be born in Harford County or the District 34A for that matter. Furthermore, to expect a candidate to have 12+ years legislative experience may be unreasonable too. Allowing fear to consume you will detract away from your ability to support a great candidate who has the potential to represent you better in Annapolis.
SHE IS THE MOST EFFECTIVE DELEGATE WE HAVE?
That is highly relative and depends on to whom you speak. However, if you have rationalized her racism and believe expulsion is too harsh, then anything goes when it comes to upholding high standards of your elected officials. You are not on the right side of history. If money is the dividing line, then you are more concerned about what you have personally at stake and not about the entire district. The standard of The Community Improvement Team is higher, stronger and better. If party is the dividing line, understand that this is a non-partisan issue (bigotry and racism) but her actions do perpetuate negative stereotypes about Democrats. If her being a woman is the dividing line, then I ask that you support a female nominee and court the Harford County Democratic Central Committee when their application process begins. If fear is the dividing line, we accept that as we are embarking upon uncharted waters. She will be the only second person in the history of the Maryland General Assembly to be expelled next to Senator Larry Young on Jan. 16, 1998. However, please realize that we have an opportunity to have an involved and visible Delegate who is not bigoted or racist.
WILL SHE BE ABLE TO RUN FOR OFFICE AGAIN?
Absolutely, while the censure is for all 4 years, even if she is expelled, it doesn’t preclude her from running for State Senate, County Executive, for Congress or any other seat. Rest assured, her goal is not to remain a State Delegate for the rest of her life.
Is the call for her expulsion politically motivated?
The call for her expulsion is motivated ultimately because Delegate Lisanti has refused to resigned amidst her use of the phrase, “N-word district” and her appeal to be dishonest with her surrogates and supporters about being framed. EVERYONE should be offended by what she has said and is now doing to discredit every organization, elected official and constituent who have called for her resignation or expulsion. Regardless if someone has ran for a Delegate seat in District 34A, it makes no difference because ALL private citizens have a right to protest against racist representatives. Delegate Lisanti brings dishonor to the craft and shames the Maryland General Assembly. Not only was she disrespectful she is being disorderly in her approach to “defend” herself.
What will you do if she is not expelled by Speaker Busch or Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones?
The same thing people have been doing their whole lives when things are unfavorable regarding elected officials: Forgive and not forget, and act accordingly should she seek office again. We don’t have any choice but to work with the elected officials because they were elected to represent us. But should there be a time when she attempts to represent this same body of folk in any capacity (as State Senator in District 34, Harford County Executive, U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, etc.), we will give to her the same attention that we have given to her now.
When is the deadline for expulsion?
The legislative session ends on Monday, April 8 at midnight. However, Governor Hogan can call a special session no later than May 8 for a vote. She can resign anytime, however.