The Prince George’s County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Mel Franklin as chairman.
Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro), a former Maryland assistant attorney general who is serving his first term on the council, said the county must keep working on transforming Prince George’s into a destination, focusing on making the school system the first priority, making gains in public safety, and economic development.
The council also elected council member William A. Campos (D-Hyattsville) to be the council’s vice chair. Campos, 39, is the first Hispanic to serve in the council’s leadership.
Franklin, 38, said a top priority is to call on the state legislators in Annapolis to fund pre-K education the same way they fund K-12 education in Maryland.
“We must take on the challenge of providing pre-kindergarten for the children of Prince George’s County,” he said. “An early start is essential to future success.”
Franklin replaces Andrea Harrison (D-Springdale), who served as chair for the past two years. Harrison is credited with leading an effort to approve increasing the minimum wage in the county to $11.50 by 2017. County leaders also said Harrison’s leadership was instrumental in carrying out several economic development initiatives backed by county executive Rushern L. Baker III (D).
Franklin is alsoa close Baker ally and officials said he plans to support the executive’s push for more transit-oriented development. Franklin was a co-sponsor in a legislation approved in June that expedites the approval process for development near Metro stations, a measure that officials said will spark growth and create jobs. Under his leadership, he said the council will continue to focus on expanding the growth at National Harbor and building a new regional medical center in Largo.
“For far too long we have been the economic engine for the economies of other jurisdictions; a consumer for the tax base of our neighbors. The time for that to change is now,” he said.
Campos, who is running next year for a state delegate seat in District 47B, said the first step will be to work on a budget that addresses the county’s priorities of funding the school system and public safety, and pursuing economic development projects.