State Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D), a candidate for governor, is facing censure after questioning the level of development in Prince George’s County and his rival Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s commitment to the county.

Gansler made the statements at the opening of his first campaign office in the county, where he lived as a child and Brown’s adopted turf.

Speaking at the opening of his campaign office in Forestville Feb. 8, Gansler said Prince George’s County has been passed over for development compared to surrounding counties. At the time he made the comments, several people in the room seemed to agree. County residents often bemoan the fact that chain retailers have failed to move into the county. Until recent years, the county also had difficulty drawing many restaurant chains, as well.

“There’ve been great strides made,” Gansler said, according to a video recording of his speech. But, there’s still economic, educational and transportation “redlining” in the county.

“So when people get up in front of you and say, ‘We have one Maryland,’ we do on a map,” he continued. “But we have two Marylands: There are those who have it and those who don’t.”

He cited the lack of “economic development” around the county’s Metro stops. And, he added, when he was growing up, “You couldn’t shop in a mall in Prince George’s or go to a restaurant with a table cloth in Prince George’s. You had to come to Montgomery County or Anne Arundel County. And it’s not that different now.”

Detractors said Gansler’s statements were patronizing and belied reality: there’s National Harbor, with its newly added Tangers outlet mall complex; there’s the $645 million regional hospital slated for construction at the Boulevard at the Capital Centre in Largo; there’s the new Whole Foods supermarket under construction in Riverdale; there’s Woodmore Town Center and other new and ongoing development.

About 30 Prince George’s officials, most of them public supporters of Brown, signed an open letter to Gansler criticizing his statements.

“His words are demeaning and nothing could be further from the truth,” said the letter. “The only thing that has ever prevented Mr. Gansler from shopping or eating in our County is the out of touch stereotypes that he’s now perpetuating to try to win an election.”

Brown, whom Gansler and running mate Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Pr. Geo.) painted as having been out of touch with the needs of the county during his time as Maryland’s second-in-command, also rebutted Gansler’s remarks.

“After I completed my active-duty service in the army 22 years ago, I chose to start a family in Prince George’s County. I live here and I love it. There are many terrific places in our county to shop, dine and live,” Brown said in a statement to the {AFRO.} “The Attorney General’s comments do a disservice to my neighbors and community leaders who have worked so hard to make Prince George’s a great place to call home.”

But the Gansler campaign called the reaction “manufactured outrage” on the part of Brown’s supporters, who seem determined to support the status quo.

“Saturday’s office opening was an extraordinary event dominated by an outpouring of public support for a team that believes the children of Prince George’s deserve #1 schools and our hard-working families have earned thriving economic development,” said Ivey in a statement e-mailed to the {AFRO}. “Don’t let 28 people who weren’t there and have a vested interest in the status quo drown out the voices of the more than 200 Prince Georgians who cheered their support.

“The Gansler/Ivey team will not tell the people of Prince George’s they should smile and be happy with less than everybody else. We will fight for them to be part of our state’s shared prosperity,” she added.


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO