A group of black Democratic activists, seeking to take the lead in selecting a replacement for convicted Prince George's state Sen. Tommie Broadwater, Jr. has decided to hold a forum to review candidates for the post. The forum will be held Oct. 22, three days after Broadwater is scheduled to be sentenced on charges of food stamp fraud.
"What we're trying to do is inject some integrity into the process," said Linwood Jones, a resident of Broadwater's 24th legislative district and president of the Black Democratic Council, a two-year-old group formed to encourage black political organization in the county. "In the past, you know our representatives were appointed for us. We want to make sure the people have a voice."
Under Maryland law, Broadwater must leave his seat upon his sentencing and the county's Democratic Central Committee must select an interim replacement to serve until any appeals are exhausted.
If the conviction is upheld, the committee must select a permanent replacement to finish Broadwater's unexpired term. Central committee chairman Gary Alexander said he supports the idea of a forum as long as it is "understood that no one is obligated to appear . . . and the Central Committee calls the shots to make the decision."
Many groups and individuals have sought ways to affect the choice in recent weeks, largely because they feel the new senator would be looked upon as a spokesperson for the county's growing black community. Broadwater, as the county's only black state senator and a member of an influential committee, has exerted an influence far beyond the boundaries of his inner-Beltway district.
County Councilman Floyd Wilson, whose council district overlaps much of Broadwater's legislative district, said that the elected officials from the area are also trying to meet to recommend a replacement but have not yet done so.
Broadwater has said he favors having either his wife or his brother, neither of whom has political experience, fill the seat. However, Wilson said many of his constituents have said such an appointment would be "an embarrassment."