Candidates for county council were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Growth: A number of observers believe requirements such as citizen input into planning decisions and certain design standards have stymied economic growth in Prince George's County. Do you favor removing such obstacles in order to attract new economic development?
Schools: School Superintendent Edward J. Feeney said that the schools were underfunded this year, causing the layoff of 507 teachers. County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan and other politicians maintained that the budget was sufficient and that Feeney's cuts were more dramatic than necessary. What do you think?
TRIM: Do you favor modification of the tax-limiting TRIM amendment? If so, what changes would you support?
Hilda R. Pemberton (D), 42, of 7608 Swan Ter., Landover, is deputy director of personnel for the Prince George's County Hospital Commission. She has a master's degree in business and public administration, has served as president of the Willow Hills Home Owners Association and is active in civic and church work.
Growth: I do not consider citizen participation and input into planning decisions to constitute an "obstacle" to economic development in the county. I believe that citizen input is vital to the conscious growth of the county. It is my belief that the business community is not opposed to informed citizen input into the planned development of the county. It may be necessary for me to meet with representatives from business and the community to determine what may be perceived to be obstacles.
Schools: It is apparent that TRIM has had a negative impact on the funding of the school system as well as on other county services.I do not believe it productive to question the judgment of Dr. Feeney in making final staffing decisions. What is important is to ensure that such drastic measures are not necessary in the future. I believe that public education should be funded at levels adequate to provide a quality education, which must include the basics as well as those programs that will allow our children to develop to their fullest potential without compromise.
TRIM: Yes, I support the changes reflected in council bill No. 138, which permits an inflation factor of up to 4 percent yearly and removes limitation on taxes collected on new construction. I consider the proposals embodied in council bill No. 138 to entail a realistic balancing of the desires of the taxpayers of the county to continue to keep government spending under control and, at the same time, provide additional funding to maintain a quality level of services. Modification of TRIM is necessary to assure continued quality education and to maintain essential services for county residents.
Melvinor Williamson-Gray (R), 44, of 2031 Brooks Dr., Suitland, is a research analyst with the Prince George's County Police Department. A former teacher and education consultant, she is on the county's Human Relations Commission and is president of the county's chapter of the state Black Republican Council.
Growth: No, citizen input into planning decisions and certain design standards is essential to knowing and meeting the needs of the residents. I believe that as a County Council member I would be representing the people -- "government of the people, by the people and for the people"; therefore, I can be effective in representing them only as long as I know their needs, as they present them to me.
Schools: I believe that whatever it takes to provide quality education for our children we must do. Our children are our future of tomorrow.
TRIM: No. I am not for TRIM modification. Prince George's County doesn't need a new property tax amendment, because we already have TRIM. TRIM provides for growth and it allows the tax cap to be lifted from industrial and commercial property taxes. The modification of TRIM is designed to increase property tax for all homeowners; it also will add new construction to the tax base each year and it won't drop abandoned properties.