A familiar face in Annapolis is under consideration for elections board seat
A former chief of staff to two Senate presidents will be considered to fill a vacancy on the Maryland State Board of Elections.
The executive board of the Maryland Democratic Party is expected to consider the nomination of Yaakov “Jake” Weissmann at a meeting on Tuesday. The meeting follows a letter from Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) that recommended Weissman for the vacancy.
“Appointing board members who are thoughtful and have the skills necessary to oversee our elections is critical,” the pair of presiding officers wrote in a letter obtained by Maryland Matters.
“Mr. Weissmann has over a decade of election law experience working with policy and elections experts across the State of Maryland. He understands that the Board oversees the core function of our State and local elections and understands the election system and infrastructure in Maryland. Mr. Weissmann would be a great asset to the State Board of Elections,” they wrote.
The executive board of the Maryland Democratic Party is expected to consider Weissmann’s nomination at a Tuesday meeting, according to a spokesperson for the state party.
If approved, his name would be forwarded to Gov. Wes Moore (D), who formally appoints party nominees to the elections board.
Weissmann currently serves as assistant chief administrative officer to Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, a position he has held for nearly two years. Prior to that he served as chief of staff to both Ferguson and the late Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., the longest serving Senate president in state history. He also was president of the Young Democrats of Maryland.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore; a masters in social work from the University of Maryland School of Social Work; and a law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law.
The recommendation of Weissmann for the board comes at a time of change for the board.
“He has a history when he was chief of staff to the (Senate) president,” said Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery). “He works with Republican senators as well as Democratic. That’s the kind of leadership we need and focus that we would want on the state board of elections, as we’ll be onboarding a new administrator and procuring new voting equipment.”
The five-member panel is appointed by the state’s two major political parties. The party which holds the governor’s office holds three of the five board seats.
The election of Moore (D) ensured that Democrats would control the majority of seats for the first time in eight years.
If approved, Weissmann will replace Justin Williams, bringing the panel to full membership.
Republicans have one remaining slot to fill. Current board chair William Voelp will remain on the panel as a hold over appointment — though not as its leader — starting in July.
Moore, earlier this year, rejected the nomination of William T. Newton by the Maryland Republican Party.
Moore nixed the nomination saying the perennial Republican candidate ““does not meet our internal vetting standards.”
In his letter, the governor cited Newton’s recent history of challenging the outcome of the 2020 election and a guilty plea involving “a crime of moral turpitude.”
Newton pleaded guilty in 2019 to charges of misdemeanor embezzlement in a case involving his mother. Newton was sentenced to probation before judgment contingent on paying $16,495 in restitution in installments of $100 per month.
The Senate rejected the nomination of Christine McCloud, a Howard County hypnotherapist whose election experience was limited to working for one candidate at a poll in the last election.
The Senate did confirm the nomination of Carlos Ayala to fill one of the two Republican seats on the board.
The board is in the midst of a search to replace Linda Lamone, the long-time state elections administrator. Lamone announced in March that she will retire later this year.
A deadline for applications for the position closed on Friday. The board is expected to conduct interviews later this month and announce a new election administrator at a June 5 meeting.