Voters head to polls to replace Leslie Johnson on County Council

Mark Gail/THE WASHINGTON POST - A voter casts his ballot Tuesday at the Kettering Baptist Church in the special general election in Prince George’s County.

Voters in Prince George’s will head to the polls Tuesday to pick a successor to former County Council member Leslie E. Johnson (D), who resigned in July after pleading guilty to destroying evidence in a wide-ranging federal corruption probe.

Turnout is expected to be light in the overwhelming Democratic mid-county District 6, which stretches from struggling inside-the-Beltway communities to gated neighborhoods with mega-mansions.

Derrick Leon Davis won the 14-way Democratic primary in September after receiving early support from County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D). Davis, a former county school system official, is chairman of the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund.

Davis is facing a challenge from Day Gardner, a businesswoman who ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

The campaign has been fairly low-key. The candidates did not schedule one-on-one debates and have mostly engaged in direct-mail campaigning and neighborhood canvassing.

The district, like the rest of Prince George’s, is overwhelming Democratic — with 65,780 registered Democrats out of 77,152 registered voters.

In the primary, Davis received 3,570 votes, or 55 percent of the Democratic ballots cast. Gardner received 109 votes in the Republican primary, 100 percent of those cast. Turnout was about 10 percent.

The winner of Tuesday’s vote will replace Johnson, who was arrested in 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 resigned in July. She and her husband, who pleaded guilty to bribery and tampering with evidence, are awaiting sentencing.

Her council seat has been vacant since then. The new council member is expected to be sworn in by Nov. 15, after most of this year’s council business has been completed.

 
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