Leadership Changes Coming to Legislative Black Caucus

The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland is set to have new leaders come the 2023 General Assembly session.

Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus will come under new leadership at the start of the 2023 legislative session in January. On September 26, Caucus Chair Delegate Darryl Barnes of Prince George’s County and Caucus Treasurer Delegate Benjamin Brooks of Baltimore County announced that they intend to resign their current leadership positions with the Caucus in December.

Del. Barnes, who’s chaired the Black Caucus for the last five-and-a-half years, said he will step down on December 5, giving the Caucus more than a month to choose a new chair before the legislation session convenes on January 11. Brooks plans to step down as treasurer on December 31, after serving for six years in the role.

Legislative Black Caucus First Vice Chair, Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins of Montgomery County, will become interim chair when Barnes steps down. She will also be eligible to serve as Chair through the remainder of Barnes’ term through 2024. A caucus election is still likely, however, as other leadership positions will also remain vacant, including that of treasurer and secretary.

Maryland Matters notes that:

Although Barnes and Brooks will give up their elected positions, they are expected to remain as members of the LBC executive board. Other elected caucus officers are: Del. Melissa Wells (D-Baltimore City) as 2nd vice chair and Del. Carl Jackson (D-Baltimore County) as financial secretary.

Barnes had appointed Del. Stephanie Smith (D-Baltimore City) as caucus parliamentarian, Sen. Joanne Benson (D-Prince George’s) as chaplain, and Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) as historian.

“I feel like the queen of England. With some [caucus members] I am the only chairman that they’ve ever known,” Barnes told Maryland Matters. “With the new incoming freshmen class and the new governor, I think it’s time for some new leadership, some new innovative ways to do things and I just think from a strategic standpoint, the time is right for me.”

Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus was created in 1970. The Maryland Manual Online, which serves as a guide to State government and its functions describes the work of the Caucus:

By drafting and sponsoring legislation to address constituent needs and by examining all bills that affect the black populace, the Caucus acts as a legislative body on behalf of the black community. The Caucus also presents a black perspective to the Legislature and advocates public policies that promote black progress. In addition, the Caucus serves as a research study group to generate pertinent data in support of appropriate public policies.

The Caucus is reportedly the largest in the country. Currently, the Caucus has 61 members of the 188 members of the General Assembly, but membership could swell to as many as 66 following the November general election.

Learn more about the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus.

Read the full Maryland Matters article.