Bethesda delegate running again; focusing on families and children

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BY AGNES BLUM, Staff Writer (

Ariana Kelly is ready to run again.

In 2010, the Bethesda mother of two ran for a state delegate seat in District 16 and won.

“I love this job,” said Kelly, 36, who has two children, ages 6 and 9.

During her first term, she helped craft legislation that would let children with special needs receive ongoing therapies they need. The bill established a work group on access to services for daily living needs and skills. It also established a technical advisory group to clarify the appropriate services for children with autism.

“I am, without a doubt, most proud of that piece of legislation,” Kelly said. “There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing you have done something to help a family with special needs.”

Kelly got her first taste of politics as a student at Walter Johnson High School 1994, when she volunteered for the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

At PBS, she produced a weekly news analysis program called “To The Contrary.”

Then, in 2005, she became the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, which lobbies the Maryland legislature to keep abortion legal and available. There, she directed legislative lobbying efforts for three years before becoming the national campaign director at, a nonprofit group that advocates for families.

A member of Tifereth Israel Congregation, Kelly said she wants to “make the system work better for children.”

Being a legislator is actually a family-friendly job, Kelly said. She said this is her full-time job.

“It has allowed me the flexibility to be the kind of parent I want to be,” she said, adding that when the legislature is in session, it can be stressful.

She tries to share that message with other moms.

“I would say outside of my legislative work, one of my favorite things to do is encourage women to run for office,” Kelly said,

Although she hasn’t filed yet officially with the state — it’s on her to-do list — Kelly is definitely running again.

“I’m working on another round of legislation to help children with special needs,” she said.

She plans to revisit a bill that would require smaller businesses to provide family medical leave.

As of Oct 31, four other Bethesda Democrats had filed for the District 16 delegate race: Jordan Cooper and Hrant Jamgochian, both with backgrounds in health care policy; Marc Korman, a lawyer; and Kevin Walling, a gay-rights activist.

No Republicans had entered the race.

District 16 encompasses Bethesda, Cabin John, Glen Echo and parts of Chevy Chase, Potomac and Rockville,

In addition to Kelly, District 16 is now represented by Dels. C. William Frick and Susan C. Lee and Sen. Brian E. Frosh. All three are Democrats.

With Frosh and Frick fighting it out for attorney general, one delegate seat will open up. And because Lee is going for Frosh’s Senate seat, so will a second.

The primary will be June 24, 2014, and the general election Nov. 4, 2014.

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