Eleven candidates for the vacant District 6 Prince George’s County Council position squared off at a candidate’s forum on Aug. 18 with several different messages on personalities on display.

Candidates discussed everything from political mentors, to budget issues to land use issues in a forum that at times got a bit snippy.

In the race pitting 10 Democrats and one Republican against each other, some candidates say it’s time for independent thinking, others say there needs to be a councilperson who can build relationships while others say there needs to be one who can bring integrity back to the position.

Venus Bethea, who ran in the 2010 primary election, says it’s time for someone new to go to the council to shake things up a bit. She says she’s tired of seeing the same things in county government and says she’s the person to bring a new way of doing business to the council.

“I preached this last time around and I’m preaching it again; we need someone who will be independent and who will only serve Prince George’s County District 6 residents and that’s it.”

Derek L. Davis, who ran against Bethea last year, had an immediate rebuttal to the thought of being independent on the council. Sitting only two seats down, Davis says a councilperson working on his/her own will get nothing done.

“You can’t get anything done in District 6 or Prince George’s County on an island by yourself,” he said. “You will be outvoted 8-1. You will often be outvoted 5-4. The reality for Prince George’s County is we’re stuck because we have been destructive and we can come together as a community.”

Newcomer to the race, Thirl Crudup, says he wants the district to be the model to other jurisdictions on how to operate. He wants to show people that Prince George’s County can conduct itself with honesty and be accountable for its actions.

“I want us in District 6 to be the best practice model anywhere around not only in Prince George’s County, but outside of Prince George’s County in terms of how business should be conducted and we can do that together,” he said.

The candidates come from various backgrounds as well. Former assistant state’s attorney Wanda J. McKnight Dixon said we should bring her law experience to the race. Day Gardner, the lone Republican and president of the National Black Pro-Life Union, believes council members are paid too much and plans to donate $17,000 of her salary to youth programs. Former Prince George’s Policeman Mark Polk says schools need to be addressed in a major way.

Also taking part in the forum were MNCPPC community land use planner Christine Osei, Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee member Cassandra Lewis, Upper Marlboro residents Margaret Okoroji-Schaeffer and Sherine Taylor, and former chair of the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee Arthur Turner.

Esther Hankerson filed her candidacy on Aug. 22, but did not take part in the forum.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO