Delegate, District 33
I didn’t want to write another tribute to Speaker Michael Busch as so many others have already written more articulate tributes and my time with the speaker, though immensely impactful, was painfully brief. After Sine Die, I felt quite alone in our district. However, I can’t stop thinking about the relentlessness of mourning and the cruelty of a calendar that refuses to yield to it.
The interim, for legislators, is usually a time when they return to their home districts, their families, their jobs and their lives. However, this interim, we returned for the welcoming of Michael Busch back to the State House, we returned for the funeral, we will return for the special session to elect a new speaker and, of course, as my home district is here in Anne Arundel County, I never left. My district mates will return to welcome the new delegate in District 30A once the Central Committee makes their recommendation and the governor makes his appointment.
I was reflecting on this because, as these events transpired, my life calendar ticked on, as I’m sure did so many others with health issues and family issues, financial issues, speaking engagements, community events, and obligations. No vacation, no break, no chance to catch our collective breaths, the very nature of crisis.
Saturday, I met with a group of young people from Severna Park High School who are also feeling the stress and relentlessness of mourning, and as we discussed how they had dealt with the death of their friend while trying to maintain their GPAs and ranking, prom, sports, and other activities, I was struck by how we are not even cognizant of the raised base level of stress at which we are operating.
As many of you know, I have a particular passion for mental health as preventative care and for strategizing how best to expand access to mental health services. When crisis management and law enforcement officials came before our delegation, I asked the question, “Who cares for the caregivers? Who helps those who deal with trauma on a daily basis process that trauma? When are we asking too much?”
As an elected official working for the state, there were times when it felt disjointed, focusing on the issues before me, blocking out national politics and global tragedies while we worked to ensure we were doing everything in our power for our constituents and the state of Maryland. However, as I now find myself with just the briefest amount of time to broaden my view and look past the Maryland General Assembly, I have discovered that instead, I want to focus even closer on our local community and working with our local leaders to ensure we are addressing the need for honest dialogue about suicide, drug overdose, depression, and mental illness in our own backyard.
I’m proud to stand with our young people who have started the Our Minds Matter Movement as they organize outreach and workshops to address the rising tide of suicide, depression and mental illness. On May 18, they will hold a rally in downtown Annapolis followed by workshops for adults and students. Normally I would not use this column to endorse an organization; however, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. As an educator and ally, I know my job is to make space for others. Join me and other community leaders on May 18 in this youth-driven movement at 11:00am at Susan Campbell Park on Dock Street in Annapolis and let’s try and solve this crisis.
Together we can slow the relentlessness of mourning. I mentioned before that I didn’t want to write a tribute to the speaker because I did not feel equal to the task. Perhaps a more fitting tribute would be to honor his legacy by continuing his heritage of public service in Anne Arundel County, and in doing so, establish my own.