Among the most critical skills a politician can possess is the ability to strategize and rally support for causes that may seem controversial. In the Maryland General Assembly today, Delegate Samuel “Sandy” Rosenberg serves as a prime example of a legislator who has possessed that skill since day one. Often at the forefront of social and legal issues, Delegate Rosenberg has built his career advancing groundbreaking legislation on issues impacting citizens from every demographic. A Delegate in the Maryland General Assembly since 1983 and adjunct professor at the University of Maryland and University of Baltimore law schools, Delegate Rosenberg’s record of achievement has been unparalleled. As a former student of Delegate Rosenberg’s, it was my honor to interview him about his previous success in the legislature and his plans for the current legislative session.
Delegate Rosenberg was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. Throughout his childhood, Delegate Rosenberg attended Baltimore City Public Schools, including Cross Country Elementary School. By observing his parents’ involvement with the League of Women Voters and the Associated Jewish Charities of Baltimore, Delegate Rosenberg learned from an early age the importance of government and community engagement. At just 6 years of age, Delegate Rosenberg remembers door knocking for former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson II’s presidential campaign. Discussing his early interaction with politics, Delegate Rosenberg mentioned, “No one who went to Cross Country elementary school with me would be surprised that I’m now serving in the legislature.” Following elementary school, Delegate Rosenberg attended Baltimore City College. Furthering his interest in government, Delegate Rosenberg succeeded Former Baltimore City Mayor Kurt Schmoke as President of student government. While at Baltimore City College, Delegate Rosenberg helped bridge racial gaps between students alongside future political figures such as Mayor Schmoke and Congressman Elijah Cummings. A proud alumnus, Delegate Rosenberg credits Baltimore City College with exposing him to different cultures and credits his experiences at City College as invaluable to his role in the legislature.
After graduating from high school, Delegate Rosenberg attended Amherst College to study political science. Next, Delegate Rosenberg would go on to obtain his law degree from Columbia University. Soon after graduating from law school, Delegate Rosenberg began working for the Baltimore City Housing department in the City’s Section 8 program. Delegate Rosenberg also worked at Channel 13 where he produced political programming including “Square off” with host Richard Sher. Despite his success in City government and producing, Delegate Rosenberg continued to have a strong desire to serve his community in some capacity. He would go on to serve on the board of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association and became heavily involved with the Baltimore Jewish Council. Finally, in 1982, Delegate Rosenberg decided to enter the political arena and ran for the Maryland House of Delegates. Successful in his bid, Delegate Rosenberg was sworn into the Maryland General Assembly in 1983.
Since joining the General Assembly, Delegate Rosenberg has learned the importance of listening and employing strategy to ensure the passage of key legislation. Speaking of his keys to success, Delegate Rosenberg stated, “Listen. I find during the course of a day, whether I’m seeking a meeting with someone or just in the course of conversation, there is some takeaway that I can hear and say ‘this is important for another bill that I’m working on’. You have to listen because you have to know what peoples’ interests are, what their concerns are about your bill, what they like about your bill. You don’t find that out sitting at your desk. Part of being a good strategist is listening.” Utilizing his keys of listening and strategic thinking, Delegate Rosenberg has had an extremely successful career in the General Assembly. For over three decades, Delegate Rosenberg has advocated on behalf of Baltimore City residents and helped secure the passage of monumental statewide legislation.
During his legislative career, Delegate Rosenberg’s strategic thinking and ability to work with both sides of the aisle led to Maryland’s repeal of the death penalty. Despite the controversy surrounding the death penalty, Delegate Rosenberg was able to put together a coalition which eventually reached a consensus to repeal the law. Speaking specifically of the accomplishment, he says, “The most profound thing I will ever do is repeal of the death penalty. It was something we were working on for 6 or 7 years. We had a great coalition and got it done.” Additionally, thanks in large part to Delegate Rosenberg, the General Assembly was able to write the principles of the monumental Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade into Maryland law. Although Delegate Rosenberg feared the legislation would not make it out of the State Senate, he once again was able to rally support behind the controversial measure. Accomplishments like these are what make Delegate Rosenberg’s time in the legislature both unique and historic. However, Delegate Rosenberg has also found success in his role as an adjunct professor. Since Delegate Rosenberg began teaching his class on legislation, three of his former students have become members of the Maryland General Assembly. These legislators include Senator Bill Ferguson, Delegate Marc Korman, and Delegate Jason Buckel. Additionally, more than a dozen staffers and lobbyists in Annapolis today have studied under Delegate Rosenberg’s instruction.
Not to be out done by past success, this session Delegate Rosenberg will again attempt to pass meaningful statewide legislation. Recently, Delegate Rosenberg introduced legislation authorizing the Attorney General to bring a lawsuit against the Federal Government without the Governor possessing veto authority over whether to proceed with the action. Additionally, Delegate Rosenberg has introduced legislation that will finance a new Pimlico racetrack and hopefully keep the Preakness in Baltimore City. Despite the tall tasks before him, Delegate Rosenberg remains positive that his strategic thinking and ability to negotiate can lead to the passage of both measures. Given his previous record in the legislature, we expect him to once again have a very successful 2017 session.
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