Prince George's County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan ended a three-year effort to place his preferred nominees on the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission yesterday and asked the County Council to reconfirm Johanna Norris and Andrew Vislosky to the body.
Hogan, now campaigning for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate, has made repeated attempts to replace both Norris and Vislosky on the WSSC, which oversees Prince George's and Montgomery county water and sewer planning and sets rates for those services.
Both Norris, 57, and Vislosky, 63, are Democratic holdovers from previous administrations. They were appointed in 1970 and 1975, respectively, and their terms have both expired. The all-Democratic council has continually rejected Hogan's nominees or made it clear that it would do so if the names were brought to a vote.
"We told Hogan three years ago that there were no vacancies on the WSSC," said council member William Amonett, who later added, "There's politics involved in everything, but the public has made it clear that they want to keep them Norris and Vislosky in there."
Last week, Hogan nominated James S. Merkle, a carpenter's union official and a Democrat, to replace Norris, but he withdrew Merkle's name early yesterday morning. According to Hogan's son and aide, Lawrence Hogan Jr., Merkle called the executive at his home early yesterday and asked that his name be withdrawn.
"He didn't want to be subjected to the unfair treatment of the council, which has obviously decided to continue to thwart the requirements of the charter," said the younger Hogan, who added that it was he who suggested that his father reappoint Norris and Vislosky.
"It's ridiculous and embarrassing to these appointed individuals, and as chief appointments aide, I did not want to send down another name of one of the good citizens of the county to be embarrassed and humiliated," he said.
Council Chairman Gerard McDonough said of Hogan's turnaround, "What this does is remove any doubt that Hogan's running for the Senate. He would never have done this if he were running for county executive."
If confirmed, Norris and Vislosky's terms will run until June 1, 1985.