The top prosecutor in Prince George's County, Angela Alsobrooks, is running to become the next chief executive in a primary race that will pit her against another longtime Democratic leader.
Alsobrooks, 46, will compete in next year’s primary for the county executive nomination against state Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George's), who launched his campaign last month.
Alsobrooks is nearing the end of her second term as state's attorney, overseeing a period of declining violent crime and growth in her agency's personnel and budget. She started her career in county government as a prosecutor more than two decades ago and was appointed to run the Revenue Authority before running for her current office.
She announced her decision Friday on Facebook and is expected to make her formal announcement Monday at her parents' Camp Springs home.
Her declaration comes amid speculation that former congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) is also considering her own run for Prince George's County Executive.
The current county executive, Rushern L. Baker III, is running for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2018.
“I feel I know Prince Georgians. I understand the people that I am fighting for,” said Alsobrooks, who grew up in the county and attended high school in the District. “I'm one of them and I believe that provides me a perch to fight in a different way.”
Supporters say the state's attorney is a responsive public servant, who so readily gives out her personal cellphone number that her staff had to push her to get a separate work number to field calls. Alsobrooks regularly attends community events.
Her office worked closely with residents of a low-income cooperative housing community who suspected that their governing board was overcharging them for water and rigging the co-op elections. Alsobrooks sent members of her team to investigate the claims and she personally oversaw the election when residents ousted the ruling group.
Apart from prosecuting criminals and, in some cases, errant police officers, Alsobrooks has spent the past eight years trying to bolster crime prevention programs.
The state's attorney has championed truancy reduction initiatives targeting middle school students at risk of dropping out and worked closely with local churches to train clergy on the signs of domestic violence. In Annapolis and Upper Marlboro, Alsobrooks has advocated for bail reform, shuttered nightclubs with records of violenceand attached stiffer penalties for crimes committed in the presence of a child.
Alsobrooks's close working relationship with Baker and many of the county Democratic officials has made her a target for critics, including Muse, who say she is beholden to party leaders. The state's attorney said she is confounded by such portrayals, pointing to her 2012 campaign in which she had little support from Democratic Party leaders.
“I am nobody's punk. I am not a pushover,” she said. “It is so offensive for anyone to suggest that I'm unable to think for myself.”
Alsobrooks broke with most of her colleagues when she spoke out in support of bail reform changes that abolished Maryland's money-based system. “Our system favored rich over poor and punished poverty,” she said.
Muse brought forward legislation in Annapolis to roll back some of those changes and got support from the bail bond industry and some in the legal community. He argued that the system needed fixing but taking away a judge's option to set bail was not in the best interest of crime victims. The bill ultimately failed.
Alsobrooks was also a lead proponent of Sen. Victor Ramirez's (D-Prince George's) 2013 legislation creating second-class driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants.
If elected county executive, Alsobrooks said she wants to expand the commercial tax base and lessen the tax burden on property owners. And she said she wants to spread economic opportunities to some of the county’s most depressed communities inside the Capital Beltway and adjacent to Metro stations. Alsobrooks said she is not considering any tax hikes.