The Maryland House of Delegates unanimously voted to censure Democratic member Mary Ann Lisanti (Harford) on Thursday over her use of a racial slur to describe a predominantly black county in suburban Washington D.C.
Members of the state’s legislative body voted 136-0 to formally condemn Lisanti’s remarks after The Washington Post first reported this week that she used the racial epithet when describing Prince George’s County. The delegate, who is white, made the remark during to another white colleague during a gathering at a cigar bar in Annapolis after door-knocking as part of a political campaign for another candidate.
The measure censuring her said the comments “brought dishonor to the entire General Assembly of Maryland.”
“This racist and hateful term has no place in anyone’s vocabulary, particularly an elected representative of the state of Maryland, serving on behalf of all of our constituents,” the resolution read.
Prince George’s County has a population that is 65 percent black and it is one of the most affluent majority-black counties in America, according to the Census Bureau. Harford, where Lisanti is a delegate, is 80 percent white.
Del. Darryl Barnes (D), the chairman of the Maryland black caucus, said the group wants Lisanti to leave her post over the remarks despite the apology.
“My hope is that with the censure, she will look herself in the mirror and realize she must resign,” Barnes said, according to The Baltimore Sun. “She cannot be effective at all.”
However, Lisanti has refused to step down amid calls from other Maryland lawmakers that she resign, saying she planned to continue working and gain back the trust of her constituents. Lisanti has already been stripped of several committee assignments.
“Quitting is easy, but not the road to redemption,” she said Thursday, according to the Post. “Staying here, accepting responsibility, is hard work. . . . But I am up for the challenge. And that is why I am staying. Healing begins tomorrow.”
Lisanti issued an apology Tuesday, saying she was “ashamed” of the remark and that the comment did “not represent my belief system, my life’s work or what’s in my heart.”
“I understand that this kind of language is not acceptable under any circumstance and I will do everything I can to regain the trust of my constituents and my colleagues,” the delegate wrote in a statement. “I will continue work every day to repent for my actions and represent my constituents.”
When asked by the Post earlier this month if she had used the slur as part of the outlet’s initial reporting, Lisanti said that she was “sure” she had.
“I’m sure everyone has used it,” the said. “I’ve used the f-word. I used the Lord’s name in vain.”