The open Prince George’s County executive seat pits five challengers, with varying degrees of experience, against each other. The winner may be the person who makes voters believe he/she has the best plan to win.

“The key here is who can bring the best ideas and best solutions to solving some of these old problems we face,” said Del. Gerron Levi, Dist. 23A, one of those candidates.

Rushern Baker has received much of the attention as he’s received nearly every endorsement from any organization or major political figure within the county. He ran twice before and was defeated each time by outgoing county executive Jack Johnson.

Baker says he has the experience to build the kind of relationships that will help the county move forward and achieve the kind of progress its neighbors have enjoyed. “I think what people see in me is the ability to bring everybody together,” Baker said. “I think people are frustrated with the non-inclusion of the elected officials and the inability to work together to get things done.”

County Councilman Samuel Dean, D-Dist. 6, claims he has the most experience in Prince George’s County after serving two terms on the council. Dean has played an integral role in getting the Prince George’s Community College Center for Minority Business Development up and running as well as helping to balance the budget during his tenure on the council. He says any talk of him not having the connections in Annapolis is far-fetched. “In order for the local government to determine appropriations, we have to work very closely with our state government,” Dean said. “As council members, we travel every week to interact with our colleagues . I have a great relationship with all of the elected officials there that represent Prince George’s County on the Senate side and on the House side.”

Sheriff Michael Jackson has been no stranger to controversy during his tenure. The incident in which he shot and killed Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo’s two dogs continues to haunt him on the campaign trail, and on Sept. 1 it was announced that Councilmember Will Campos, D-Dist. 2, would be switching support from him to Baker. Despite it all, Jackson says his executive management experience, which he says no one else has, is what separates him from his opponents.

“Executive management experience would transcend me right into the county executive office,” said Jackson. “I understand what it takes to build a great team. We had the best team that this county has seen over the last eight years.”

Levi, is a relative newcomer in local circles, but she’s already made an impact during her one-term in the Maryland General Assembly. She was named Maryland Legislator of the Year by the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Association for introducing legislation which gives stiffer penalties to crimes connected to gang activity. She says voters in Prince George’s shouldn’t let “politics as usual” get in the way of choosing the right candidate to lead the county forward. “I’m asking voters to reject politics as usual and business as usual for a new direction for the county,” she said. “The question is what direction we’re going to go in.”

Army veteran Henry Turner has the least experience of any candidate in the race, but he’s not letting that get in his way. Turner is a Prince George’s native who was a founding member of the Prince George’s Minority Building Industry Association. What he lacks in political experience he says he’ll make up for in leadership he’s gained during his time in the military. “In Prince George’s County there are great people that haven’t been provided the leadership that they deserve,” Turner said at a forum in Upper Marlboro. “We need to have leadership that has integrity and management skills.”

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO