An item in the Aug. 19 Prince George's Notebook had an incorrect date for the Seat Pleasant elections. The city will hold its elections Sept. 13. (Published 8/26/04)
As the campaign to replace former council member Peter A. Shapiro (D-Brentwood) continues to gain momentum, supporters for the candidates are lining up.
U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.) has put his money and operation behind Will Campos, a special assistant to County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) for Hispanic affairs. Sheriff Michael Jackson (D) is also backing Campos.
Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D) announced this week that he's supporting Karren Jo Pope-Onwukwe, a lawyer and treasurer of the county Democratic Central Committee.
Ivey said he has known Pope-Onwukwe for a number of years and has been impressed by her demeanor and intellect. He said her experience as a former public school teacher would prove useful as the council deals with educational issues.
"Whoever wins this seat could potentially hold it for 10 years, which makes it a pivotal position," Ivey said. "When we have that next turnover because of term limits, we need someone with her intellect to help with that kind of transition."
Last month, Shapiro also said that Pope-Onwukwe was the best choice in the crowded field of candidates.
So who is Johnson pushing for?
He hasn't said.
Johnson, who has had his run-ins with the majority of the County Council and has two allies on the nine-member board, has remained silent on who he thinks should represent District 2 for the remaining two years of Shapiro's term.
Campos works for Johnson. But Amber Waller and Malinda Miles, who also are vying for the seat, supported Johnson's 2002 campaign.
In addition to Campos, Pope-Onwukwe, Waller and Miles, Derrick M. Posey of Mount Rainier has filed as a Democratic candidate. Tommy S. Priestley of Mount Rainier is the only Republican on the ballot.
The primary election is Sept. 14. The general election will be held Nov. 2.
Rematch in Seat Pleasant
In other election news, Eugene Grant, founder of Global Developmental Services for Youth, a mentoring organization, has decided to take another run at challenging Eugene Kennedy in the mayoral race in Seat Pleasant.
Kennedy defeated Grant, 37, four years ago. But Grant said that he feels compelled to run for the office again and is not deterred by Kennedy's 16-year reelection record.
"There is definitely a need for a change," said Grant, who has rallied the community for events such as the annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade and is likely not to have any problem mustering volunteers for a political campaign.
"In the City of Seat Pleasant there has been stagnation for too long," he said.
Seat Pleasant voters will head to the polls on Sept. 8.
Recovery Effort Continues
A joint state and county oversight panel, formed in the spring as part of the deal between Maryland and Prince George's to help save Prince George's Hospital Center, has hired a Tennessee-based company to help Dimensions Healthcare System, the nonprofit operator of the hospital, develop a recovery plan.
Cambio Health Solutions of Brentwood, Tenn., this month signed a six-month contract valued at nearly $2 million.
"We welcome the opportunity to work with Cambio," hospital officials wrote in a memo to employees announcing Cambio's arrival at the hospital this week. "We appreciate their assistance in turning around our system and improving our financial strength and independence."
Calvin Brown, chairman of the Dimensions board of directors, and Patrick F. Mutch, president of Dimensions, implored employees to cooperate with the consultants. "We will all be held accountable for the jobs we do each day and must be receptive to new ideas and opportunities for improvement throughout the system," the memo said.
Cambio has brought in a team of consultants, led by Tony Jones, a subcontractor from Atlanta who is serving as the chief restructuring officer.
John O'Brien, chief of staff for the oversight panel, said that Jones will provide Cambio with a day-to-day management presence. "He will make sure recommendations are being implemented in a timely manner," O'Brien said.
Protesting Park Sale
The Riverdale Park Town Council unanimously approved a special election next month to allow voters to decide whether the council should sell a town park that residents affectionately call the "Field of Dreams."
Voters will decide on the sale during a special election Sept. 18.
The vote will likely put an end to the dispute over whether the emergency ordinance the council passed on June 30 to sell the park, at Lafayette Avenue and Tuckerman Street, should be finalized. The ordinance was approved to close a more than $200,000 gap in the budget.
Residents objected to the action, charging that the council improperly decided to sell the public land behind closed doors.
Since then, Riverdale Park residents have collected 594 signatures for a referendum on whether to overturn the council's vote to sell the park. Mayor Guy Tiberio has waged his own campaign to get as many signatures as possible thrown out. Tiberio announced during a meeting Aug. 9 that more than 100 signatures were invalid, but the council still voted to accept the petitions.
Riverdale Park residents have formed an organization called People for Open Government and Open Spaces to fight the sale. Roland Walker, a resident who is a member of the group, said he was pleased at the council's action.
"I am glad that the council discharged their duty, because it is the will of the people to have a referendum," Walker said.