Leslie Johnson, wife of Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson and candidate for the Prince George’s County Council seat in District 6, has never held public office in Maryland, but she heads into the race as the candidate with the highest profile. However, she’s ready to let people know that behind that profile, is a candidate with the resume to get the job done.

“I want people to know that I’m my own person and I have my own credentials,” Johnson said. “I believe that I’m a strong and unifying leader that will continue to push our county forward.”

A graduate of Fisk University and Howard Law School, she has served as an administrative judge and legislative liaison with the Washington, D.C. government.

She has a strong legal background and has helped to promote women’s rights throughout her husband’s tenure. She believes that background will help her fight for education, public safety and increasing the commercial tax base, the three issues she believes are paramount to the county.

While Johnson is trying to run a campaign on her own merits, she’s cognizant of what her husband’s done over the past eight years. She says Jack Johnson’s accomplishments as county executive are things Prince George’s should be proud of.

“When we look at the record objectively over the past eight years, we can see that our schools have improved,” she said. “You can see that we’ve had a decrease in crime − lowest in 30 years. Now you’re seeing economic development with Gaylord, Konterra, Wegman’s and on-and-on. We need to continue that forward loop.”

However, not everyone has been as enthusiastic about her husband’s performance. In an e-mail to the AFRO, Andrew Pantelis, president of the Prince George’s County Professional Fire Fighters Association, said the county executive is leaving office with little political capital.

“The Johnson administration has repeatedly balanced the County budget on the backs of its workforce. County employees are demoralized after two years of furloughs, layoffs, and other service reductions,” Pantelis said. “Therefore, to infer that he could deliver the support of the workforce to his endorsed candidate is simply incorrect.”

But Johnson defends the county executive. She realizes there are some like Pantelis who disapprove of her husband’s performance, but she continues to stand by her husband and his accomplishments.

“If there are folks that say that there has been no progress, I don’t agree with that,” she said. I’m committed to continuing that progress we’ve experienced in the last eight years.”

Johnson is ready to jump into public office head first. She says it would’ve been okay for her to take a break after being first lady, but it’s now time for her to serve her community.

“You never take a break from public service,” she said. “I have been a person who has always been involved in our community. There are just no breaks when you are trying to reach out and help our citizens.”

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO