Christine Jones is in a tizzy this week and it's not her fault. Last week she was named a delegate from Prince George's to the Maryland General Assembly -- an appointment she said she didn't expect.
While other legislators were making last-minute preparations for the assembly session that opened yesterday, Jones was still waiting to hear where her office would be, where she could park her car in Annapolis and when Gov. Harry R. Hughes would officially confirm her appointment.
Jones said everything happened so fast, "I don't even know . . . the present issues" legislators will consider during the session.
Her appointment was one result of a reshuffling of Democratic legislators representing District 27, an area comprising Oxon Hill, Camp Springs and Hillcrest Heights. The moves were brought on by the resignation last year of Sen. Peter A. Bozick.
In December, the Democratic Central Committee chose Del. Frank J. Komenda to fill Bozick's shoes. Last week, the committee picked Jones, a 52-year-old physical education teacher and faithful party member, to take Komenda's job. She will go to Annapolis as the first black, and the second woman, to represent the district.
What this means for the citizens Jones and Komenda represent remains unclear. But for the two appointees, there is little doubt. Komenda must prove himself as a leader and establish himself in the job firmly enough to fend off an expected challenge in September's primaries from Del. Charles Blumenthal. And Jones must work hard to bone up on the issues for the present legislative session.
"She's got an awful, awful lot of homework to do, but she's a very bright individual," District 27 delegate Frederick C. Rummage said of Jones. "By the time she gets through this session she'll be a well-versed, articulate representative."
Jones, who has worked hard as a precinct captain and in campaigns and community organizations, said that as a delegate she will pay special attention to "social programs, economic development, educational development. I have great concern for the senior members of the society."
The population of District 27 has changed from predominantly white to 50 percent black in the last 10 years, and Jones' supporters hope she will become a visible and effective spokeswoman for the black community.
Faced with the difficult task of deciding between Marian (Midge) Patterson and Jones, both active supporters of the previous legislative team, Komenda said, "I told Midge why I was going to support Chris: because of the need for a black."
"Realistically," Komenda explained, "none of the team could put ourselves in the shoes of a black person. We were not black.I couldn't know what it was like." And, he added, there were the "political considerations of 1982."
Some members of the black community consider Komenda a weak Senate candidate, particularly against the highly visible and popular Blumenthal, unless Komenda shares the ticket with an attractive black candidate.
Patterson is expected to run for one of the three delegate seats from the district in the September primaries.
Komenda says his appointment to the senate and his ambition to win election to the seat in November mean he will have to change his ways. A senator "plays a larger, single, individual role," he said. "You no longer get lost in the crowd. . . . You're kind of on the tip of the spear -- more highly visible."
In the seven years he has traveled from Prince George's to Annapolis as a delegate, Komenda said, his role has been "less glamorous" than that of many other legislators.
Rummage believes Komenda can provide the leadership needed in the Senate post. "I think that Frank Komenda is without question one of the ablest legislators in Annapolis," he said without a waver. "He's quiet but most effective. He's one who realizes that to be a maverick produces no results. To be a team player, you can accomplish almost anything within reason."
The other veteran delegate from the district was less sure. Blumenthal, a popular party maverick, wants to be a state senator and Komenda now stands in his way.
Komenda said he expects he and Blumenthal will reach an accommodation before the September primaries, but both men said this week they expect to run for the senate seat. Both said they would not step aside in favor of the other