ANNAPOLIS – When he was picked to succeed ousted Baltimore Sen. Larry Young, John Jefferies was not supposed to do much more than keep the seat warm while Young battled ethic charges and mounted for a re-election bid this fall.
But as the legislative session winds down, now-Sen. Jefferies, D-Baltimore, says he was more than just a “seat warmer” during his brief term in the Senate.
“I was able to play an important part in both the tobacco and the milk bills, my vote in committee made a difference,” Jefferies said.
But Jefferies, 69, said he was not bitten by the Senate bug and that, as planned, he will step aside after the session ends Monday to make way for a possible Young comeback.
Young, 48, was expelled by the Senate on Jan. 16 on the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.
It found that Young had lucrative deals with businesses contracting with the state and that he was paid substantial sums of money from health care organizations in return for little work.
After unsuccessfully trying to renominate Young to his 44th District seat — a move the attorney general said would be illegal — the Democratic Central Committee from the downtown Baltimore district unanimously recommended Jefferies for the job.
Even though he started Feb. 23, six weeks after the start of the legislature, Jefferies believes the session was a success. He was still waiting, however, to see if the district will get two bond bills for schools and recreational buildings.
“It’s been hard work, but I enjoyed it,” said Jefferies.
Besides helping make new laws, he also got to work with old friends, now in the Senate, who served in the House with him during his two terms as a delegate from 1988 to 1994.
“Some of the issues have changed, but many of them are the same,” he said.
Lawmakers said Jefferies came to the Senate to do a job, he did it and now he is leaving.
“He knows the process. He knows the drill,” said Sen. Decatur Trotter, D-Prince George’s. “He’s been a good soldier, who basically came in and did what he was supposed to do.”
“I think he’s acted like a veteran,” said Sen. Timothy Ferguson, R-Carroll. “He hit the deck running … there was no learning curve.”
Ferguson, who sat beside Jefferies on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said he believes the Baltimore Democrat served his district well.
“I thought he did a good job,” said Del. Ruth Kirk, D- Baltimore, who serves in his district. “He knows how everything goes anyway.”
But now, Jefferies said he is excited about returning to his job as the assistant secretary for administration at the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
“I believe I did a good job, I only hope the people back home are pleased,” he said.