The County Council will vote tomorrow on whether to add charter amendments to the November ballot that would prohibit council member Thomas R. Hendershot (D-New Carrollton) from running for an at-large seat on the council if a referendum he is pushing is successful.
Council member Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Laurel), who collected signatures that placed a two-term limit on council members and the county executive, said it was wrong for Hendershot to back an initiative that would allow him to skirt the term limits imposed by voters in 1992.
"It was the will of the people to put in term limits," Dernoga said. "The whole purpose of term limits was to bring in new blood, and I think that has served the county well."
Hendershot, who is in the middle of his second term on the council, is prohibited from running for his district seat again.
Last year, he began shopping around the idea of changing the charter to expand the council and create two at-large seats.
A petition with 20,000 signatures has been filed with the county Board of Elections to place the referendum on the ballot.
Hendershot said Tuesday during a public hearing to discuss the charter amendment that many have questioned his motives to push the petition to add the at-large seats.
"Some have criticized my position as self-serving; I do not apologize," he said. "I have long supported at-large representation. . . . My attitude toward term limits is well known, and my public position long predates my election to this body."
Another Hat in the Ring
Theresa Dudley is a community activist who has tried unsuccessfully three times to win a seat on the County Council.
Her formal opponents over the years have included former council member Marvin Wilson (D-Glendarden) and current council member David Harrington (D-Bladensburg).
But Dudley said that even though the name of the 4th Congressional District congressman was never officially on the ballot, she always felt that her campaign was really against Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.), who financially backed her opponents over the years.
"I figured if I have to run against Al Wynn every time I run for council, I might as well run against him," said Dudley, a teacher and Landover resident.
Dudley officially announced last week that she will take the "kingmaker" head-on for the congressional seat that represents Prince George's and parts of Montgomery County.
Dudley, a former Democratic candidate, will represent the Green Party.
Dudley said she was trying to round up support for her expected David-vs.-Goliath bid against Wynn.
She said she planned to spend her abbreviated campaign highlighting Wynn's record and her community work to address crowded schools and increased police protection.
"I didn't elect him to be Mr. Kingmaker," Dudley said. "He wasn't elected to select our elected local officials. He was elected to represent us, and he's not doing it."
Dudley questioned Wynn's push to have casino gambling at National Harbor, the planned development on the Potomac in Oxon Hill.
Dudley said that if she didn't have to worry about copyright infringement laws, she would already have her campaign slogan set: "Watch out, Fat Albert; Here Comes Dudley Do-Right."
"It just resonates doesn't it?" Dudley said. "He's become a fat cat, taking money from special interest groups. It's time to do the right thing."
Brown Is Approved
The County Council approved the confirmation of Stan Derwin Brown as the so-called people's zoning counsel, a lawyer hired on contract to monitor zoning and land-use decisions.
The 6 to 1 vote ended more than a year of wrangling between the council and Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson over the appointment.
Earlier this year, the council stripped Johnson's power to make the selection and instead took the authority in its own hands.
The council took the unusual step of removing Johnson from the process after its attempt at a compromise over the appointment failed.
The council last year proposed a bill to strip Johnson of his appointment power for the people's zoning counsel. But it later agreed to provide Johnson with three choices to fill the position. Johnson ignored it and nominated Christopher Randolph, who was not on the list.
Randolph, a lawyer who worked in the state's attorney office and had no zoning experience, would have replaced Brown, who served as the people's zoning counsel for four years. Brown has a bachelor's degree in city planning and an advanced degree in urban and regional planning.
After several council members questioned Randolph's qualifications, Johnson withdrew his name.
Under the county charter, the people's counsel is supposed to ensure that zoning cases are handled thoroughly and fairly. The counsel can summon and cross-examine witnesses, introduce evidence and offer legal opinions to the County Council.
Award for Johnson
Johnson was among five black public officials from across the country recognized last week by the National Forum of Black Public Administrators (NFBPA) with a leadership award.
John E. Saunders III, executive director of NFBPA, said Johnson was selected because he is a role model for African Americans interested in careers in public service.
"Having come from a very humble background, he has risen to leadership in Prince George's," Saunders said. "While he's relatively new, he's done a relatively good job in that time in providing leadership and moving the county forward."
Johnson shared the stage with Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Fannie Mae Foundation President and CEO Stacey Davis Stewart, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety John William Marshall and District Mayor Anthony A. Williams.
Stumping for Kerry
Wynn and county State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey will be taking on some part-time work in the months ahead. Both men divulged while in Boston this week for the Democratic Convention that they will be hitting the campaign trail in the name of presidential candidate John F. Kerry. "We expect to produce a big turnout in Maryland, so I will be going to some of the battleground states," Wynn said of his plans to help the Kerry campaign.
Mark your calendars:
Prince George's County Council Chairman Tony Knotts will hold his third annual District 8 Day on Aug. 15 from 3 to 6 p.m. at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington.
Knotts said District 8 Day is a summit that provides residents with an opportunity to learn about the inner workings of county government.
Staff writer Hamil R. Harris contributed to this article.