With five new members of the Prince George’s County Council, the transition into office will have to be made as smooth as possible. The new members have already starting working to make sure they hit the ground running in December.

The main thing new council members are doing now is listening to residents. All the candidates have established ways for their constituents to call or e-mail with questions or concerns. With the county trying to bounce back from a recession and improve the quality of life for residents, new council members are trying to get off to a good start.

“I consider it a high honor and privilege to have been overwhelmingly chosen by you as your next District 6 County Council Member,” Leslie E. Johnson said in statement urging residents to contact her. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please know that as your unifying leader, I will always work hard to represent you. I look forward to continuing to serve you and address and resolve the issues that concern us all, including, but not limited to, education, job creation and keeping our communities safe.”

It’s a good thing candidates are eager to engage residents, because many residents are eager to engage the candidates. John Schnizlein, president of the Piscataway Hills Citizen’s Association, can’t wait to have new District 8 Councilman Obie Patterson come to the group’s meetings so they can discuss things going on in his community.

“I have no idea if Obie Patterson is going to approach his job the way that Tony Knotts did,” said Schnizlein. “It didn’t seem like his style when he represented us at the statehouse. We will reach out to Mr. Patterson. We will invite him to our association meetings and we look forward to working with him.”

The new council members have also been observant. Mel Franklin, the new councilman in District 9, has been to several Council meetings, sharing his thoughts on issues in his district.

New District 1 Councilwoman Mary A. Lehman is thinking about how to work with the council and County Executive-elect Rushern Baker on improving Prince George’s County Schools. She says too much money is going to public schools for the county to not have a return on its investment yet.

“I understand that I am not running for the Board of Education, but this is the biggest issue facing this county,” Lehman told the {Washington Post}. “Sixty-two cents out of every tax dollar are going to the schools, but people are not confident they are getting their money’s worth. We have made tons of progress in terms of academic achievement, but it is the behavior and the safety issues that must be solved.”

In addition to Lehman, Johnson, Patterson and Franklin, Karen Toles will be taking over the council seat in District 7. Will Campos, D.-Dist. 2, Eric Olson, D.-Dist. 3, Ingrid Turner, D.-Dist. 4, and Andrea Harrison, D.-Dist. 5 all return for second terms.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO