Maryland Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller takes on transportation issues and STEM, embraces making history in new role

Maryland Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller takes on transportation issues and STEM, embraces making history in new role

By Sam Janesch

In a room packed with government officials and an agenda containing millions of dollars’ worth of state contracts, Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller felt like she was breaking all the rules.

An engineer-turned-politician who emigrated from India as a child, Miller had spent her first three months as lieutenant governor navigating a largely undefined role — standing side by side with a charismatic governor while starting to take on responsibilities involving transportation and the promotion of STEM education.

When she sat in for Democratic Gov. Wes Moore at the powerful Board of Public Works meeting, it was the first time in more than over 20 years that women made up a majority of the three-member panel — and never before had a woman of color served as chair. Just Miller’s very presence had the feeling of “good trouble,” she said later, borrowing a phrase from the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

“To all women and women of color out there, this one’s for you,” Miller said to open the April 19 board meeting with Comptroller Brooke Lierman and Treasurer Dereck Davis. All are Democrats.


Miller, 58, took her oath of office in January, becoming the state’s second female lieutenant governor and the first who is Asian American and who immigrated to the U.S.

The role is largely hers and the governor’s to define. In Maryland, the lieutenant governor, who will be paid $170,000 a year under the state budget that begins July 1, does not have any constitutional duties other than stepping in if the governor is unable to do the job.


Those occasions are rare, though not unimaginable. Miller’s predecessor, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, briefly became acting governor in 2015 when Gov. Larry Hogan was treated for cancer.

While the job can be largely ceremonial, Moore has frequently said he wants Miller to be the “most consequential lieutenant governor” in state history. Since she took office, Miller has been a nearly constant presence by Moore’s side in the State House and at events around Maryland, from the introductions of high-profile cabinet nominees to the Polar Bear Plunge charity fundraiser on a freezing Saturday at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis.

There’s a shift in the way we need to approach transportation,” Miller said, echoing the governor’s desire to focus state resources on mass transit projects, not just road upgrades. “It’s got to be from a more holistic standpoint to make sure that we provide alternative modes of transportation for all users, to make sure that it’s equitable.”

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