A half-dozen names have been floated in the past week as possible replacements for County Council member Peter A. Shapiro (D-Brentwood), who announced plans to step down on July 16.
Shapiro is returning to work at his alma mater, the University of Maryland.
The council is scheduled to decide this month when to hold a special election to fill the District 2 seat.
Karren Pope-Onwokwe, a lawyer and treasurer of the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee, has been the most frequently mentioned name by those in county political circles. Pope-Onwokwe was making calls looking for support from members of the state Senate delegation barely 24 hours after Shapiro's announcement.
Also mentioned as possible contenders in what is expected to be a crowded primary are: Amber Waller, a member of the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee; William F. Gardiner, the mayor of Hyattsville; William Campos, the Prince George's County Latino affairs liaison; and Malinda Miles, a member of the City Council in Mount Rainier and a former member of the county Democratic Central Committee.
Most names had been floated as potential candidates to run for the District 2 seat in 2006. But Shapiro's departure has aspiring council members scrambling to gather support among county power brokers, including U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md).
Del. Doyle Niemann (D-Mount Rainier) also popped up on the list as a possible challenger. Niemann, who is a prosecutor in the state's attorney's office, ran for the council seat in 1990.
"I've had people approach me," Niemann said. "But I'm probably not inclined to do it. I'm inclined to stay in the House of Delegates."
Niemann said Shapiro's departure is a significant loss for his district. "He has shaped the path for development in the district," said Niemann, noting Shapiro's influence in pushing for the transformation of the Route 1 corridor and University Boulevard and constructing schools in the district, which includes Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, Brentwood and North Brentwood.
Council member Marilynn Bland (D-Clinton) has had two legislative aides over the last 18 months. And now she's working on her third.
Carl Gordon, who was hired last year to replace Wesley E. Gourdine Jr., has resigned.
Barbara L. Holtz, the council administrator, said Gordon told her last week that he was resigning. She said that he is no longer on the county payroll and that she did not know the reason for his departure.
Gordon, a law school graduate, previously worked as an aide in the legislative office of former council member Isaac J. Gourdine. Bland also worked for Isaac Gourdine as his legislative aide. Wesley Gourdine is Isaac Gourdine's brother.
While the duties of a legislative aide can vary from one council member to the next, the job, generally speaking, is part office manager and part supervisor. Gordon considered himself Bland's chief of staff. A legislative aide is the highest-ranking staff member in a council member's office.
Yes and No
Aisha N. Braveboy, the county executive's liaison to the County Council, sounded a lot like her boss recently when council member Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant) asked what the county executive's position was on a bill that would lift the county's pit bull ban and replace it with a broader measure requiring that all potentially dangerous dogs be registered.
"We have some overall agreement that there needs to be heavier restrictions," Braveboy said. "Certain aspects of this bill we are happy with."
Exum: "So, does he support it or oppose it?"
Braveboy: "He supports elements of it."
Exum: "So, what does he oppose?"
Braveboy: "He doesn't oppose it."
After nearly everyone in the room shook their heads or otherwise signified they were having trouble figuring out Johnson's position, Braveboy said, "We're taking no position on this bill at this time."
Council member Thomas R. Hendershot (D-New Carrollton) introduced the bill in April using recommendations made by a task force formed in 2002 to study the county's vicious dog law. The group found that the ban on pit bulls and mixed pit bull terriers was costly and unsuccessful.
But Pearline Chittams, a resident of Lanham and former aide to the council member who introduced the ban seven years ago, said the law has made county neighborhoods safer.
"Returning pit bulls to the county would be laughable if children's safety was not at stake," Chittams said. "I urge the citizens of Prince George's County to remember the names of the council members who voted this bill out of committee. . . . If the citizens of this county do not want pit bulls, this matter may have to be resolved at the polls."