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Maryland gubernatorial candidate John King selects Michelle Siri, a women’s rights advocate, as his running mate

1/5/2022 | Ovetta Wiggins

Washington Post

Former U.S. education secretary John B. King Jr. has selected Michelle Siri, an attorney and women’s rights advocate, to join his ticket in his bid to become Maryland’s next governor.

Siri is the executive director of the Women’s Law Center of Maryland and previously served as an assistant attorney general and chairwoman of the board of directors at Planned Parenthood of Maryland. King called her a “tireless champion for women” who has advocated paid family leave, raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work and bodily autonomy for women.

“Michelle is the perfect partner as an advocate for a more equitable and just future for the state of Maryland,” King said. “And Michelle spent her career fighting for women’s rights, fighting for gender equity, fighting for the very same issues that drive me in this race.”

Like King, Siri has never run for elected office.As a Baltimore County resident, she brings geographical diversity to King’s ticket in the crowded primary. She said she agreed to join the campaign because she shares one of King’s core beliefs that “public institutions can be such a good force in people’s lives.” King, a former schoolteacher who was orphaned at age 12, has credited teachers and education for leading him on a path to serve as the top education policymaker in the Obama administration.

Siri said her personal experience is also what drives her.

“I’m a first-generation Iranian American, and so I was raised with a really keen awareness of how fragile women’s rights are around the world and how valuable they are and how quickly they can be lost,” she said. “And so I was also raised with knowing it was my job to never take that for granted and to always fight for them. … This is just a huge opportunity to move from that advocacy piece into actually governing around the values and the principles that I really believe in.”
She said she wants to improve the lives of families across the state by focusing on equity. The lieutenant governor’s role in Maryland has ranged from the ceremonial acts of cutting ribbons, attending funerals and substituting for the governor at the Board of Public Works to driving and rolling out policies.

As a young attorney in private practice, Siri said she was on an accelerated partnership track with her firm before she started a family. After the birth of her son, she went on leave and was taken off the partnership track and sidelined by the firm.

“I know that that is going on across the state, across all sectors, and frankly, having the worst impact on the folks who can afford it the least,” she said.

Siri is the fourth candidate for lieutenant governor to be named by Democrats in the race. Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) named Monique Anderson-Walker, who recently resigned from the Prince George’s County Council, and former county executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) chose longtime Montgomery County Council member Nancy Navarro. Author and former nonprofit chief executive Wes Moore selected Aruna Miller, an engineer and former state lawmaker, to join his ticket.

Republican candidate Del. Daniel L. Cox of Frederick tapped Gordana Schifanelli, an attorney from Queen Anne’s County, as his running mate.