2008 General Assembly

Key Figures on the Legislative Front Lines

Stories by Lisa Rein, John Wagner and Philip Rucker, Washington Post Staff Writers


Del. Justin D. Ross
(Courtesy Del. Justin Ross)

For Del. Justin D. Ross (D-Prince George's), the best part of his leadership role might well be its title: chief deputy majority whip.

"That's got to be the coolest title in Annapolis," Ross said.

At 31, Ross is an ambitious up-and-comer hungry to make his mark at the State House. During the special session in the fall, Ross won kudos for rounding up votes among his rank-and-file colleagues for key bills.

"I do what the speaker tells me to," Ross said. "The leadership has a strategy, and they ask me to help go get votes for them. But I can't tell you my trade secrets."

Ross said he hopes to sponsor legislation on criminal justice, including bills about the treatment of drug abusers and ex-felons. He also is interested in laws that promote economic development in low-income communities.

As Ross enters his sixth year in the House of Delegates, his future seems bright. The real estate agent from Greenbelt says he is eyeing a run for Prince George's County executive. Someday, he would like to serve in Congress, too.

"But I'm 31 years old, so I've got a little time," Ross said, laughing.

-- Philip Rucker

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© 2008 The Washington Post Company