On the evening of November 20, 2002, Delegate Adrienne A. Jones received a call from Michael Busch.
“Bob Ehrlich would become the first Republican governor in 30 years, and Casper R. Taylor Jr. lost his seat as Speaker of the House of Delegates,” recalled Jones. “Michael Busch would become Speaker. He called me on November 20, 2002 at 8:30 p.m.— which was on my birthday, to ask if I would serve as Speaker Pro Tem. I told him I would do it.”
She added, “There was a trust factor he had in me.”
Delegate Jones would serve in the position, and continues to serve as Speaker Pro Tem till this day. Now, Delegate Jones would like to serve in the position of the man who believed in her ability to lead and serve. House Speaker Busch (D-Anne Arundel) died April 7, 2019 after a short bout with pneumonia. Busch, 72, who was Maryland’s longest-serving speaker, held that position for 16 years.
“It was a great loss to the members of the House of Delegates, the General Assembly as a whole, as well as the people of Annapolis where he ably served,” said Delegate Jones. “I have known Michael since 1997 when I came into the General Assembly. He was a very personable and very caring person. He knew no color or ethnicity, and was the type of person who wanted you to be successful.
“He would go out of his way to assist in any way that he could. He was one of a kind. Going forward, whomever the next individual is, I believe Michael has left a legacy for that person to look up to, and given them the opportunity to expand on in their own way.”
Delegate Jones is vying to be that individual. On May 1, 2019, the Maryland House of Delegates will reconvene in a Special Session to select a replacement for the late Speaker.
“Governor Larry Hogan had to declare the Special Session,” said Jones. “I had to sign the papers along with the Senate to address the Special Session.”
In addition to Jones, the declared candidates are House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Maggie McIntosh, (D-Baltimore City), and House Economic Matters Committee Chairman Dereck Davis, (D-Prince George’s County).
“I learned from the best,” said Jones. “If it’s me, as a whole, I will make the House of Delegates and the General Assembly productive for all.”
Delegate Jones has been presiding over the House since Busch was hospitalized with pneumonia on March 26, 2019.
“I am Speaker Pro Tem, but in Michael’s stead, I assumed the Speaker’s duties,” said Delegate Jones.”
Delegate Jones has been a member of the Maryland General Assembly since 1997, representing the 10th Legislative District of Baltimore County. On January 9, 2019, she was once again unanimously elected by the full House of Delegates to serve as Speaker Pro Tem. This is the 17th time she has been selected to serve in this position.
Delegate Jones holds the distinction of being the first African American woman to serve as Speaker Pro Tem in the Maryland House of Delegates. There are 12 women in the country who serve as Speaker Pro Tem, and she is the longest serving woman in a State House Leadership position in the country.
Delegate Jones was recently presented with the Casper R. Taylor Jr. Founder’s Award. The award is given to sitting members of the House Delegates who serve with integrity and a focus on public service. It is the highest award given to a member of the House, and is named after Casper R. Taylor Jr., who served as Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1994–2003.
When asked what she thought her chances were of receiving the needed votes to become Busch’s successor, Delegate Jones said, “It’s a vote by members of the House of Delegates which will determine who the next Speaker of the House will be. I don’t take anything for granted. I will know how successful I will be when the vote comes on May 1.”