Although much of the political attention in Prince George's will be focused on next year's U.S. Senate and governor's races, a few local campaigns are also getting some notice.
The races are big -- as far as the county goes. And the list of emerging names includes many who are well-versed in campaigning.
Rushern L. Baker III, the former state delegate who lost to County Executive Jack B. Johnson, has already said he's trying to drum up support for another county executive bid.
Mark Spencer, who lost to State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, said he plans to make a decision within a couple of weeks about another stab at the county prosecutor's job.
The Rev. C. Anthony Muse, who made an unsuccessful bid for the county executive position in 2002, said he is looking at running for state Senate. If he enters the race, he said, he would challenge Sen. Gloria G. Lawlah (D-Hillcrest Heights).
"I'm exploring ways that I can serve," Muse, a former state delegate, said after a recent breakfast fundraiser for Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.) at Martin's Crosswinds in Greenbelt.
Johnson's nomination of Juanita D. Miller to replace Artis Hampshire-Cowan of Mitchellville on the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission will not be taken up before the council breaks for its August recess. Karen Campbell, a spokeswoman for the council, said that Johnson has been asked to resubmit the nomination in the fall, when the council returns.
Fifteen people applied for appointment to the governing board of the agency, which provides water and sewer service to Prince George's and Montgomery counties. Johnson decided to go with Miller, a special education coordinator for the county school system and longtime figure in Prince George's politics. Miller served on the WSSC from 1996 to 2002.
A former member of the House of Delegates, Miller was in the middle of some of the agency's most bitter disputes over minority contracting during her first stint on the board.
In 1997, she led an attempt to reject the low bid of a white-owned company for an $11.5 million sludge hauling contract. The third-lowest bidder, MTI Construction Inc., was a minority-run company whose owner had contributed to her various political campaigns.
Harley Resigning to Run?
James F. Harley, who was appointed to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission by Johnson in 2003, has submitted his resignation.
Harley's term was supposed to expire in 2007.
Harley, a longtime resident of Clinton, has told a few people that he plans to run for County Council next year. He would be taking on Marilynn Bland (D-Clinton) in what is shaping up to be one of the most contested races in 2006.
Harley's departure means Johnson will have two seats to fill on the powerful, bi-county commission, which develops and implements land-use, zoning and planning policies. Chairman Elizabeth "Betty" Hewlitt is supposed to end her tenure this month, but Johnson has not yet moved to replace her.
County members of the commission also serve on the county's five-member planning board.
Both appointments will need to go before the County Council.
Council member David Harrington (D-Cheverly) is recuperating at home after a brief hospital stay last week.
"I just overdid it," Harrington said. "I was dehydrated and needed to get hydrated, and now I feel great."
Harrington was taken to Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park on June 15 and was discharged over the weekend.
Harrington has not returned to his council offices. The Transportation, Housing and Environment committee, which Harrington chairs, was scheduled to meet Tuesday but was canceled in his absence. He said he plans to return to his office the first week in July. He will attend the Maryland Municipal League conference in Ocean City next week.
"I do plan to go to MML and resuming my normal, hectic busy schedule," he said.
Don't Show Her the Money
The council this week opted to do as the school board had asked: delay handing over $6.2 million.
The sum was part of a bill appropriating money that became available as a result of higher-than-expected revenues in fiscal year 2004.
Thomas M. Himler, the county's budget director, said the county collected $45 million in telephone taxes last year, after forecasting about $34 million. Of the extra $11 million, $5 million was appropriated in the budget for 2005. That leaves $6.2 million for the school board to collect, he said.
But board Chairman Beatrice P. Tignor sent a letter to Johnson last week withdrawing a request for the money.
Several council members said they did not understand why.
Council member Thomas R. Hendershot (D-New Carrollton) questioned whether the council had the authority not to hand over the money. State law requires the telephone tax to be given to the Board of Education.
Ralph Grutzmacher, the council's attorney, explained that the school board is only saying that it "sees no need for the money now."
Boswell Makes Her Move
Looks like Iris B. Boswell, deputy chief administrative officer for management and budget, has finally taken up residence in the county.
There is no requirement for county appointees to live in Prince George's. But when Johnson brought Boswell on as a top adviser, many raised questions about Boswell's out-of-state residences.
According to Boswell's 2003 financial disclosure form, she called Richmond home.
Boswell disclosed this year that her residence during 2004 was Glen Dale.