A federal investigation into Jack Johnson and his wife, Leslie, has caused many to question whether she should take her oath on Dec. 6. Some District 6 residents want her gone, while others are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.
One resident who wants her gone is Allen King. He started an online petition asking her to resign, which he plans on presenting to the Maryland General Assembly. King says that he and other residents of District 6 will protest outside of the county administration building every day if she refuses to comply.
“We are a proud people, a proud District 6 and a proud PG County,” King wrote. “Our District 6 Councilwoman-elect, Mrs. Leslie Johnson, has been arrested and charged with corruption and destruction of evidence. Although she has not been tried or convicted (all are innocent until proven guilty in court) the shame brought on our District 6 and PG county is mighty and devastating. Mrs. Leslie Johnson cannot represent us proudly and honestly on the PG County Council.”
The people behind Prince George’s Monitor, a blog run by and for Prince George’s residents, agree. They ask that Johnson not take the oath as well. “Our great county does not need the continued distractions that will be caused by a selfish decision by you, Leslie, not to step aside,” a Nov. 14 post reads. “Concerned Prince Georgians implore you to make one final decision that is not self-serving! Please step aside now Leslie. Leave our great county at peace.”
On Nov. 12, Leslie Johnson was arrested after federal agents overheard her allegedly tearing up an $100,000 check a developer gave to her husband and stuffing nearly $80,000 in her bra at her husband’s request on a wiretap.
Others aren’t quite so harsh. County Executive-elect Rushern Baker has remained relatively neutral on the issue, instead focusing his comments on what he needs to do to position Prince George’s forward. He says since there are no laws preventing Johnson from taking office then she should do so.
“Clearly, legally she should take the office since she’s been elected as a councilmember,” Baker said in a television appearance on News Channel 8. “That’s a decision that she’s going to have to make. These are allegations. She has not been convicted of anything. If she shows up on Dec. 6, we’re going to swear in council members and a new county executive.”
Baker understands that Johnson’s presence can upstage a day that many of the people being sworn in have waited half their lives for. However, he says that’s not something he can focus on.
“Clearly, there are going to be news cameras around her. There’s going to be something happening with her,” Baker continued. “There’s nothing I can do about that and that’s what the people of Prince George’s County expect.
“What they expect and what I will do is focus on the issues before us,” he said. “The council members, who were elected, I’m going to hold them to the standard of ‘Let’s make Prince George’s County great.’ Let’s deal with the issues before us.”