The State’s Attorney’s race in Prince George’s County is one that pits foes from different backgrounds against each other. However, the one advantage everyone believes they have is experience.

Peggy Magee, a Mississippi native, served in the United States Air Force for 20 years, where she became the first female first sergeant for the maintenance squadron for Air Force One. Since retiring, she’s pursued a career in the legal profession and has held some prominent roles. One of those roles include her current position as clerk of the Prince George’s County Circuit Court. Magee boasts her leadership roles as what sets her apart from her opponents.

“When you look at the records of all of my opponents, none of them have the same record that I do,” Magee said. “I’m the only one that has worked solo where I had to make all the decisions, policies and the standards.”

Mark Spencer is a Prince George’s County native with extensive background in the Prince George’s State’s Attorney office. He was an assistant state’s attorney in Prince George’s County from 1989 to 1993. He returned to the office in 1996 and was appointed deputy state’s attorney in 1998. For the past eight years, Spencer has been working with the county’s police department in reform and oversight capacities. People in Spencer’s camp say he not only has experience, but he has the kind you can trust.

“Mark has the expertise to be state’s attorney,” said Radamase Cabrera, Spencer’s campaign strategist. “He knows how to be fair and firm. He knows, clearly, how to work with the community.

“He ran for the office in 2002 when vacated it and, clearly, he has not given up that process. He didn’t go into private practice to make money. He stayed in the public service sector. Our campaign is based on experience and trust.”

Joseph Wright is also a native of Prince George’s county. He says he’s a career prosecutor and not a career politician. He’s prosecuted over 100 criminal trials and has served in the Prince George’s State’s Attorney office for over 10 years. Given the nature of the position, he says he has the most recent and relevant experience of all the candidates in the field.

“Real experience does matter when you’re looking at who should be the next state’s attorney, Wright said. “I am the only prosecutor running for office. That’s important because I’m the one who’s been in the trenches for the past 12 years.”

After serving as law clerk to Judge William Quarles on the Baltimore City Circuit Court, Angela Alsobrooks gained experience in the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney office as the county’s first full-time domestic violence prosecutor in 1997. In 2002 she left the office to work in the County Executive Jack Johnson’s administration as education liaison and later as executive director of the county’s revenue authority.

District 1 County Councilman Thomas Dernoga, a former tax lawyer and a member of the Maryland Bar since 1985, has thrown his hat into the ring also. The current chair of the council has been an activist in his district for over 23 years, when he became zoning lawyer for the West Laurel Civic Association and started defending the rights of citizens of central Maryland to fight unwanted development. Dernoga doesn’t boast about having more experience than his opponents, but he says his different kind of experience has put him in tune with county residents.

“I’ve been a community activist for a couple decades and on the county council for nine years,” Dernoga said. “I understand how our communities work. I know what kind of concerns our residents have and I want to incorporate that focus and use that knowledge to better protect our communities so people feel safer.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO