State Del. William A. Campos (D-Prince George’s) has resigned from the Maryland House of Delegates for personal reasons, nine months after he was sworn in to represent the state’s only majority-Hispanic district.
Campos, 41, said in an interview that his recent marriage, desire to start a family and lack of employment outside the State House amounted to “too many transitions” to manage while representing the northwestern corner of Prince George’s County, home to the county’s highest concentration of Hispanic immigrants.
Delegates are paid $45,207 for what is considered part-time work.
Campos submitted his resignation to House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) on Thursday, according to a statement issued by Busch’s office.
“In his brief tenure . . . he was a great advocate for Prince George’s County and for criminal justice reform,” Busch said. “I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Campos’s legislative district was drawn in 2012 specifically to increase the chances of electing a lawmaker from the county’s growing and increasingly politically savvy Latino community. His departure will trigger a scramble to find candidates to fill the seat.
“The district is new, and whoever succeeds me will have plenty of time to learn the position,” said Campos, who was elected to serve through 2018. “I would like to see a Hispanic or bilingual person there.”
The resignation reduces to five the number of Latino state legislators in Maryland, home to more 500,000 Hispanic residents. Much of the community is concentrated in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, which are the state’s two largest jurisdictions. Both are overwhelmingly Democratic and are just outside the District.
Campos, who was born in El Salvador and grew up in Prince George’s, is part of the wave of Central American immigrants who moved to the metropolitan area and settled in northwestern Prince George’s in the 1970s and 1980s.
He began his government career in the administration of former county executive Jack B. Johnson, who tapped Campos for the newly created job of Latino affairs liaison.
In 2004, Campos became Prince George’s first Hispanic County Council member, winning a special election to fill the seat left vacant in District 2 by Peter Shapiro, who stepped down to take a new job.
Campos was reelected twice, serving a total of 10 years.
In the county, Campos has worked closely with Sen. Victor R. Ramirez (D-Prince George’s), a childhood friend, to build Latino political power. Along with Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s) in the State House and Democratic colleagues from Montgomery County — Dels. Ana Sol Gutierrez, Maricé I. Morales and David Fraser-Hidalgo — they founded a Latino legislative caucus in Annapolis early this year.
It was Ramirez, a state senator since 2010, who helped influence the drawing of new boundaries for District 47 and encouraged Campos to run as he completed his second full council term.
“Campos broke barriers and created opportunities for other people,” Ramirez said. “He did a great job in the council for 10 years, and I strongly believe he would’ve done a great job as a delegate.”
Campos was unopposed in the Democratic primary, and a potential Republican rival was disqualified because of faulty paperwork.
County Council member Deni Taveras (D-Adelphi), a former chief of staff to Ramirez who succeeded Campos on the council, called Campos’s resignation “a loss to our community.” She pledged that she and other county Democrats “will find someone committed and engaged in the community” to replace him.
Among the names being floated as possible candidates are Dinora Hernandez, a Prince George’s County Board of Education member who works in the county’s office of law, and Carlo Sanchez, who represents the district on the county Democratic Central Committee.
“That is a Latino district, and we don’t have the numbers in Annapolis that represent us,” said Peña-Melnyk, who is also chair of the Latino caucus. “I hope we can keep that in mind” in the selection process.
According to state law, the committee has 30 days from the day of the vacancy to meet and send a list of potential candidates to succeed Campos to Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who has 15 days to make the appointment.