Veteran Baltimore County Sen. Delores Kelley, a member of the State Senate since 1995, is in a rough and tumble contest with two other candidates for her 10th District seat.
The 10th District, which encompasses a large swath of western Baltimore County, includes Randallstown, parts of Woodlawn, Owings Mills, and Reistertstown. The last year the district was subject to significant boundary shifts, an issue Sen. Kelley says has been politically problematic.
"The fact Baltimore County is located where it is, you've got one senator in Carroll County (Republican Joseph Getty who represents the 5th District), another in Howard County (Democrat Edward Kasemeyer, 12th District) and another in Harford County (Republican J.B. Jennings 7th District) … Baltimore County is 'red' enough. It's hard to move in a progressive direction … it's not nearly as diverse in representation as it should be," Kelley explained.
"They took away the only majority-minority district in Baltimore County and cut it in half and that wasn't helpful," Kelley added.
Still, Sen. Kelley argues she has been a prolific lawmaker in Annapolis. "I do a lot of legislative work to help a lot of vulnerable populations," Kelley said. "I have 147 laws on the books, I'm not sure people understand what the job is."
One challenger Stephanie Boston, a veteran educator who taught for 23 years, suggests Sen. Kelley is the one "disconnected" from the needs of her constituents.
"There are a lot of things going on and there is a disconnect with the current senator," Boston said. "She's 78," which Boston says is not inherently a problem.
"But, she's not available, she's not visible, [and] that's an issue," Boston added.
Boston, who taught math and reading in Baltimore City and Baltimore County says education is one of the main challenges confronting the district. "The ugly truth is my district is crumbling around us, our schools are poor performing. The buildings are great the equipment is good, but our children are still performing below national standards," Boston said. "As a teacher you can't bull—- me to what the problem is."
Pat Kelly, who was elected to the Maryland Democratic State Central Committee for Baltimore County's 10th Legislative District in 2006, formerly ran for Kelley's senate seat. "I decided to give it another shot because … I still have a passion for representing the people in my district," Kelly said. "I want to be a part of the decision making process that effects the people in my district." Kelly is president of the Maryland State Courts Employees Local/AFSCME Union.
She lists crime – which she characterizes as "rampant" in the district – at the top of her priorities if she were to un-seat Kelley. But, she also takes issue with the current senator's position on the minimum wage increase in Maryland. "Sen. Kelley did not support the minimum wage increase. We've got people [in the district] who can't make it off the minimum wage," said Pat Kelly. "My concern is that she would fully support a $430 million estate tax cut for the 2 percent of the richest people in the state of Maryland … yet, she would not support the minimum wage bill and the people who need it most. How many of those rich people live in the district that she represents?"
Stephanie Boston describes herself as "between the baby boomers and generation X," and has been focused on the plight of seniors in the 10th District led by the 78-year-old Kelley.
"I'm living it. I'm experiencing lack of resources for senior citizens," Boston said. "I have to take care of my mother and I just buried my grandmother and having to take care of her estate … all these different aspects that go along with seniors. Our seniors are really hurting and the lack of action and response is a concern."
Despite the criticisms of her opponents Sen. Kelley seems undeterred. "I'm busy doing policy," she said. "We're working hard and I believe were going to prevail."