Rep. Rachel Talbot-Ross, D-Portland, at the statehouse in Augusta in March 2017. Credit: Micky Bedell / BDN

Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, is in line to become the first Black speaker of the Maine House after a Thursday vote among House Democrats.

Ross was elected to the position by fellow Democrats one week after an election that saw the party maintain its majority in the House. She beat Rep. Ed Crockett, D-Portland, to secure the position.

Ross’ ascension to the House’s highest spot represents a milestone for women of color in political leadership in Maine. Other recent milestones include South Portland Mayor Deqa Dhalac becoming the first Somali-American mayor in the U.S. in 2021, and the election of two Somali-American women — Mana Abdi and Dhalac — to the Maine House last week.

Ross, the daughter of Maine’s first Black lawmaker, Gerald Talbot, was first elected to the Legislature in 2016. She currently serves as assistant majority leader. She will be the fourth woman to serve as speaker after Libby Mitchell, Hannah Pingree and Sara Gideon, and the second person of color after Gideon.

Ross over the past two years championed legislation resisted by newly reelected Gov. Janet Mills, including a tribal sovereignty overhaul opposed by the governor in favor of a compromise, and a bill aiming to reduce pretextual traffic stops that Mills vetoed.

On Thursday, House Democrats also chose Rep. Maureen Terry, D-Gorham, as majority leader, according to Mary Erin Casale, a spokesperson for the House Speaker’s office. She beat out Rep. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth.

Rep. Kristen Cloutier, D-Lewiston, was elected assistant majority leader. Rep. Lori Gramlich, D-Old Orchard Beach, had also competed for the position.