By Heather Bagnall
Delegate, District 33
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We are all filled with anticipation of the upcoming season; song, food, family, celebration and a new legislative session. At least, I am filled with anticipation. Some might think apprehension as the, quite literally, newest elected delegate to the Maryland General Assembly, having waited until November 16 for a determination of my district race, but I am not apprehensive; I am excited.
When I started this campaign, I wanted to make people’s lives better, to bring new ideas and approaches, to get in the room. I learned a great deal on the campaign trail about myself and about our community. Today, as I work to put together my team, as I get to know my fellow delegates, learn about my committee assignments, gather information on legislative priorities, and cull my schedule to ensure I haven’t missed an orientation, inauguration or opportunity for community engagement, I am filled with excitement.
This may seem unimportant but that enthusiasm, that sense of something greater than ourselves, is not unique to me. I see it in the faces of other first-time representatives and in the faces of the community advocates and volunteers, organizers, and activists who dedicated hours of sweat equity to help so many of us to victory. Perhaps every freshman delegate feels this excitement, but I want to build upon it, because our race in particular was entirely community driven.
I mention this because our job has just begun, but for our constituents, now is the time to celebrate and to hold us accountable to the commitments we made during the campaign. I have much I would like to accomplish, but if I can be proud of one thing, it is that I have contributed to a new era of civic engagement, something I want to foster and build upon for the future.
I recently went to the swearing-in ceremony of our newest orphans’ court judge, Vickie Gipson. Among the other attendees were many members of the community who had contributed to campaigns at every level, and they were so thrilled to be a part of this moment. We all got misty-eyed at the shared experience and that feeling of belonging, that sense of our government being a constant conversation is a healthy and welcome deviation from the current polarization in our politics.
I know that we are not going to agree on everything but I truly believe that “we the people” are the fourth branch of government, and to that end, I want to encourage this community to bring your concerns to me. I will hold monthly open-door listening sessions and will write a monthly column to try to stay engaged and keep you as informed as I can. I wish you all a joyous holiday and a prosperous new year.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead