“I started to get involved with a youth running club that was community-driven and established for a community that was in need and for disadvantaged kids, and it was the first time for most of them that anyone even asked how their day was going. Outside of the farms; lunches, and me bringing snacks [that] was really sometimes all those kids had to go home with…from there I just got more and more involved, and I realized how much is driven politically, and decided to put my name in the hat and represent this area.”
By: Valerie Skvirsky, Government Relations Associate
Delegate Brian Crosby (D–St. Mary’s County) represents District 29B in the Maryland House of Delegates and serves as Vice Chair of the powerful Economics Matter Committee (ECM). Elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 2019, Crosby, who is still considered a “freshman”, had the great honor of accepting his new role as Vice Chair during the 2021 Special Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly (MGA). Crosby also serves as the House Chair of the Joint Electric Universal Service Program Workgroup and is a part of both the Public Utilities Subcommittee and the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee.
Crosby, born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has been actively involved in community service for years, before joining the MGA. After graduating from Drexel University with a bachelor’s in business administration, he went on to earn his Juris Doctor from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. Soon after, Crosby, who had always wanted to serve, enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he went on to serve on active duty for five years before finding his home in the Patuxent River area of Southern Maryland. There, Crosby continued his commitment to public service and his community. What started as a volunteer position with a youth running club, evolved into Crosby running for delegate after realizing how much the community, and particularly the disadvantaged children there, needed representation, stating that “…I just got more and more involved, and I realized how much…is driven politically and decided to put my name in the hat and represent this area.”. Since then, Crosby has been a powerful voice in Annapolis for not only his district but for all people of Maryland.
Since the end of the 2022 Legislative Session, Crosby has been back to work at his full-time job as a government contractor supporting the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, while also making time to meet with community leaders and constituents to focus on what he can do to better represent everyone in his district. As the 2022 gubernatorial election approaches, Crosby is running for re-election to the Maryland House of Delegates in a competitive race to continue representing District 29B. Despite having so much on his plate, Crosby took time out of his busy schedule to speak with me about his first session as Vice Chair of the influential ECM committee.
What made you want to go into public service?
What really got me involved in politics and public service started when I first moved [to Maryland] when I got out of the Army. I started to get involved with a youth running club that was community-driven and established for a community that was in need and for disadvantaged kids, and it was the first time for most of them that anyone even asked how their day was going. Outside of the farms; lunches, and me bringing snacks [that[ was really sometimes all those kids had to go home with. And from there I just got more and more involved, and I realized how much…is driven politically and decided to put my name in the hat and represent this area.
You mentioned that you moved here, where are you from originally?
I actually grew up in Philadelphia, went to college there, and then went to law school in Michigan and froze out there for a couple of years. Then I joined the army and moved around. I was on active duty for five years, stationed at two different posts. One overseas, and then one in Georgia. Then when I made the transition out, I just wanted to be on the water in a military-friendly community and Patuxent (PAX) River in St. Mary’s County provided that.
Has your military experience impacted your approach to serving in the legislature?
Yes, absolutely. In ways that I couldn’t even answer in just this interview. First and foremost, you know, when you’re in charge of 42 or 63 guys, depending on the unit…there’s all different backgrounds, personalities, and ideas. And you are charged with synchronizing those and synthesizing them, figuring out what is key information and what isn’t. Those skills and experience play really well in the legislature. Additionally, coming from an organization that is driven by chain of command, I understand that. I understand what it’s like to sometimes have a ship moving in a certain direction, and even though I may not personally agree with it, that’s irrelevant. You pitch your case and then once it’s over, you come out and show a unified front and support. So, in a weird way, it’s like being institutionalized, and I can operate and feel comfortable in that type of environment. So, that transition into the House and into a leadership role was really not as hard for me, just because of my background.
This was your first legislative session as the Vice Chair of Economic Matters. What does it mean for you to be the Vice Chair of the Committee, and how did you prepare yourself for that leadership role prior to the start of session?
First, it’s humbling to even have the opportunity. It’s still surreal, and I feel like it hasn’t fully sunk in. I’m still only a freshman and I think people sometimes forget that, so this is my first term too. And as far back as we can find, it doesn’t look like there’s ever been a freshman that has ever been granted one of these positions, which is crazy. And you know, I would say a couple of things. One, what I already referenced with the chain of command. The way I see it and the analogy I make is that I’m the executive officer for the committee. So, if anybody is familiar with military terms, the executive officer is second in command and he or she does everything that the commander doesn’t want to do. Additionally, they set up all the logistics and all the prep work so that the commander is best positioned for success. That includes having conversations with a lot of the committee members, having conversations with people who brought bills in front of the committee, making sure I’m prepared and have read all the bills that are in front of the committee, and being prepared to defend most of them on the floor, is all part of the process. You know…I was secondary on a lot of the bills, and that was all new to me. But it’s really just putting in a lot of time reading, preparing, and making sure Chair Wilson is in the best posture to not just lead the entire committee, but that other members of the committee feel included and feel like they’re given a purpose.
Absolutely, and I would think that the two of you are an effective team, especially since Chair Wilson shares your strong military background.
Yeah, we get along great. It’s a really good relationship. It’s more than just that I like him, I admire him and I recognize his background. And that really fits with my personality type. We’re pretty in sync on most issues.
Was there anything that surprised you about your new role? Anything that you didn’t expect?
I just didn’t realize before how many stakeholders were involved in every single solitary bill…when you’re just a legislator on the committee, people will of course come around and talk to you about bills, but it’s only about the bills that so and so may be worried about. When you’re in a leadership role, it’s every bill that multiple parties want to talk to you about. And that was just eye-opening to me.
What is your process after the legislative session ends… how do you review and figure out which areas are going to be a priority for you moving forward? Are you meeting with constituents during the interim, talking to your peers, or a bit of both?
It’s definitely both. I wouldn’t be the first to tell you that as soon as I leave there, I leave there. I tend to only focus on constituent issues when I’m out [of Session] and won’t think about another piece of legislation until December. I’m meeting with constituents and community leaders often on the ground and getting information on how I can better represent them. But when I leave the General Assembly, I go back to my full-time job. Sometimes people don’t even realize that most legislators have full-time jobs, so that is my focus, and will be my focus until just before the Session starts.
Are there any projects or new initiatives that you are working on now that would be interesting for those following the conversation series and for those in your district?
I think one of the biggest investments that we’ve made from the State was a $2.5 million investment in what is called a SCIF. It’s a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. But the lure is that ONR, the Office of Naval Research, comes to Pax [Patuxent] River and they’re doing a lot of research on drones. And to have the SCIF off of Pax [Patuxent] River, which is very rare, we are going to put that in an aviation hangar, and then run drones and testing out of that. That could potentially be hundreds of millions of dollars of run-off economy right here in St. Mary’s County. It’s a big deal. And you know, House Leadership, particularly in regard to the Budget, really helped me out on that project. Working within the legislative process to ensure that kind of funding priority for my district are key to representing this area.