(Updated 12/17/2016) One of Prince George’s County’s brightest political stars recently was involved in a car crash where alcohol is suspected of being a factor, however residents are willing to withhold judgment on his case until the legal process takes course.
Prince George’s County Council member Mel Franklin.
On Nov. 21, Prince George’s County Council member Mel Franklin (D-District 9) was charged with driving under the influence (DUI). He was involved in a crash that injured two people in the other vehicle on Pennsylvania Avenue near Forestville, Md. It has been widely reported that Franklin’s blood-alcohol concentration level tested 0.10 , over the legal limit of 0.08, and that he was 70 yards away from the scene of the accident.
Franklin hasn’t publicly commented on the incident. His attorney, Theresa L. Moore, could not be reached for comment.
“I wish to reserve judgment on Mel Franklin’s case,” Maurice Simpson Jr., the president of the Prince George’s County Young Democrats told the AFRO. “His case hasn’t been adjudicated in a court of law. I don’t believe he should resign.”
The Prince George’s County State’s Attorneys’ office has publicly indicated that a prosecutor from another county will work on the case.
Franklin has been on the council since 2010 and served as the chairman from Dec 3, 2013 to Dec. 1, 2015. He has served on the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee and is a founder of the Greater Marlboro Democratic Club.
He represents District 9, which encompasses the southern part of the county with Joint Andrews Air Force Base as a landmark and well-known unincorporated areas such as Accokeek, Clinton, Camp Springs, Fort Washington, Brandywine and Upper Marlboro.
Franklin considered running for county executive in 2018 but recently indicated he is open to being a candidate for one of the two council at-large seats that voters approved in November.
Alonzo Robertson, a Brandywine resident, told the AFRO he is sticking with his council member at this time. “I have given thought to the situation that he is in,” Robertson, an attorney, said. “I am disturbed that he left the scene of the accident and that he has had a number of accidents and DUIs. However, I haven’t heard the full extent of the story.”
Robertson joins Simpson in rejecting calls for Franklin’s resignation. “I will stand by him because he is someone who has been working for the county,” he said. “He is making a difference and I don’t think that this incident will undermine his ability to do his job.”
James Dula, PhD, president of the South County Democratic Club, has a wait-and-see attitude toward Franklin. “I think he should have his day in court,” Dula, the former president of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce, told the AFRO. “If he is found guilty, I think the county council should take appropriate action. Other than that, I believe that due process should run its course.”
“People are very concerned about this,” he said. “I had members even from D.C. and Baltimore contact me and ask, ‘What the heck’s going on?’”
Progressive Prince George’s is the county’s branch of Progressive Maryland, a statewide organization that supports liberal stances on issues facing the state. On Nov. 30 Progressive Prince George’s called for Franklin’s resignation, saying the county council should strip him of committee assignments, limit use of county vehicles by council members, and see that he personally pays any costs of the accident.