Derrick Leon Davis wins Democratic nod for Leslie Johnson’s seat in Pr. George’s

September 20, 2011

Early support from Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and several other county leaders helped Derrick Leon Davis win the Democratic nomination for the vacant District 6 seat on the County Council.

With all 26 of the district’s precincts reporting, Davis received 3,570 votes, or 55 percent of ballots cast. Arthur A. Turner Jr., with 1,254 votes, or 19 percent, was a distant second among the primary’s 14 candidates.

In the predominantly Democratic county, Davis, a former school system official and the current chairman of the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, becomes the strong favorite to succeed Leslie Johnson, who resigned in disgrace this year.

Many predicted that the race would come down to Davis and Turner and would be won by the candidate who could best mobilize his supporters. As they had for the past couple of months, each man spent Tuesday practicing shoe-leather politics.

Late Tuesday, after contacting his campaign workers to thank them for their support, Turner sent a message to Davis conceding the race, according to Terry Speigner, a Turner campaign aide.

Davis, who had run unsuccessfully for the seat twice before, was buoyed by his relationship with Baker.

In a victory speech, Davis praised Baker’s “vision to make a good county great,” but he also said he would not be “a rubber stamp” for the county executive.

In the general election Oct. 18, Davis will face Day Gardner, who ran in the Republican primary unopposed.

Davis, a Baker ally, could play an important role in shaping county policy and helping to implement Baker’s initiatives involving economic development, school improvements and public safety.

The winner of the general election will replace Johnson, who resigned in July, weeks after pleading guilty to destroying evidence in a wide-ranging federal corruption probe.

Johnson was arrested last November after federal investigators monitoring a wiretap heard her husband, then-County Executive Jack B. Johnson, instruct her to flush a $100,000 check down the toilet and to stuff $79,600 in cash in her underwear.

Johnson initially refused to vacate her position. But after a public outcry and calls from fellow council members to step down, she submitted her resignation. She and her husband, who pleaded guilty to bribery and tampering with evidence, are awaiting sentencing.

Mary Jones, a Mitchellville resident who cast her ballot for Davis, said she hoped Tuesday’s election would put an end to the saga surrounding the Johnsons’ arrest.

“I do hope we can stop focusing on Leslie Johnson and Jack Johnson,” Jones said. “That is not what we are all about. We are about improving our community. No matter who gets elected, I hope that is over.”

Charles Wilson of Mitchellville said the pay-to-play culture in the county influenced his decision to vote for Mark Polk, a lawyer supported by the grass-roots group People for Change.

“He didn’t look like he had a lot of baggage,” said Wilson, a retired police officer. “Other people are hooked up with other administrations, and I looked at that and I thought that’s the good ’ol boy [network]. We want somebody with an open mind and no strings.”

But Virgil Reavis, who voted for Davis, said he considered Davis’s relationship with Baker a plus.

“People question his relations with the county executive, but Mr. Davis’s opinion is that that relations is vital for getting things done,” Reavis said.

As predicted, voter turnout was low. Rain showers earlier in the day may have kept voters away from the polls.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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