Due to the resignation of former Prince George’s Councilwoman Leslie Johnson, a special election will be held to find her replacement in District 6.

The County Council voted on Aug. 2 to approve the election and dates for the special election and the field of candidates is filling up already.

Three candidates in the race ran against Johnson in last year’s primary election, while a fourth is running for the first time. The three candidates are Arthur Turner, former chair of the Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee; Venus C. Bethea, business owner and Melwood Park Homeowner’s Association president and Derrick L. Davis, chairman of the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund.

For Turner, this is a second chance to do things right. He said he ran a flawed campaign in 2010, but this time around he’ll be more focused and more effective in communicating his message.

“There are people who were not with me on the last run who are with me this time and I feel supremely confident that we have the ingredients in place now,” Turner said. “The message is on point and it will resonate with voters.”

Turner is the business candidate out of the field as he is pushing for more jobs in the county. He says people are hurting economically and it’s time to fix that.

“There are a lot of people who are in pain and there are a lot of people who are silently suffering,” he said.

“Part of that can be addressed by bringing in business, federal agencies and state agencies,” he continued. “I will continue to fight for that.”

Davis, who finished second to Johnson in last year’s primary election wasted no time in declaring his candidacy, launching his website the day Johnson pled guilty to witness and evidence tampering charges. He expressed his excitement about the opportunity to run again, telling the AFRO last month that it was time to “turn the page” on this incident.

The soft-spoken Bethea is back as well, still preaching her message of a balance in the county’s priorities. As important as increasing the county’s commercial tax base is to Bethea, she says it’s equally important to make sure county residents feel safe in their homes.

“We definitely need economic development, but in order for any of that to happen we have to shore up our public safety,” Bethea said. “Public safety has to be involved in every part of our development. It can’t be an afterthought. It has to be the deciding factor as to whether or not we can develop somewhere.”

The fourth candidate, Day Gardner, president of the National Black Pro-Life Union, is running as the lone Republican in the race. Gardner says it’s time that checks and balances came to the council and the “good ole boy” network be broken.

“There are people losing their homes so you can see that this is a very difficult time in the county,” Gardner said. “At the same time the county council saw fit to take a raise for themselves. I have a problem with that.”

The date for the primary election will be Sept. 20 and the general will be Oct. 18.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO

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