Anne MacKinnon doesn't think of herself as a machine politician. In her short career in Prince George's County Democratic politics, she said she has made her mark as an independent voice, often bucking the party leadership.
But with MacKinnon's recent selection as an interim member of Prince George's County Council -- a process completed without a vote by county residents -- she was immediately cast as the creation of party bosses.
One critical editorial cartoon in a local newspaper showed MacKinnon waiting patiently outside a smoke-filled room for the county power brokers to emerge and name her to the $43,600-a-year job.
MacKinnon, however, says her appointment to the seat formerly held by James M. Herl, who resigned after pleading guilty to cocaine possession, does not necessarily mean she will carry out the wishes of the leaders who recruited her to run for the job. She had the backing of County Executive Parris Glendening and state Sens. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., Thomas P. O'Reilly and Arthur Dorman.
After receiving the leadership's endorsement, MacKinnon was one of three candidates chosen by the party's central committee and forwarded to the County Council for final selection.
As expected, the council vote last week was 7 to 1 for MacKinnon. Council member Floyd Wilson voted against her in protest of the selection process. One opponent, Rose Hurdle of New Carrollton, cried foul and immediately filed to run against her in the September Democratic primary.
MacKinnon, 33, of Riverdale, said her leadership style will be similar to her service in the Maryland House of Delegates, to which she was elected in 1987 without support from a slate as a Democrat representing the 22nd District.
A member of a House committee on election law revision, MacKinnon was actively involved in efforts to pass new ethics laws governing campaign contributions from developers to Prince George's council members.
Bucking the county's Senate delegation, she opposed a tough Senate bill to block council members from voting on any zoning matter involving developers who had contributed to their campaigns.
MacKinnon felt the bill was too restrictive. "What if they wanted to vote 'no' on a development? This bill prevented them from voting at all," she said.
The Senate bill passed and went into effect last year but was overturned in a court challenge by developers. MacKinnon said passage of more reasonable ethics and campaign finance guidelines will be a priority for her on the council.
Born in Boston, MacKinnon grew up in New Carrollton, the daughter of a General Services Administration official. In 1978, she graduated from the University of Maryland, where her mother now works as an admissions officer.
Following college, MacKinnon worked briefly as a VISTA volunteer in Omaha, helping Indian tribes apply for government funding. After returning to Maryland, she worked for three years in constituent services for Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.).
Among other issues on the council, she said she hopes to work on "quality development" in the county and on revitalization of older neighborhoods.