The Prince George’s County Council elected new leaders Tuesday who emphasized the need to work with County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks on a broad set of policy goals, including improving the county’s schools, health-care system and transit options.
Council member Todd M. Turner (D-District 4), who was unanimously elected chair, said he will focus on compromise in his new role, both with other members and with Alsobrooks’s administration.
One of the first responsibilities for the council — which this year expanded to include two at-large members — is confirming Alsobrooks’s appointees, including one D.C. regulatory official who has faced criticism of her record.
“We are going to be doing our due diligence,” Turner said. “We expect there might be a lot we have to do.”
Alsobrooks (D), who was sworn in Monday along with the council members, sat in the front row of their meeting and told them she wants to have a “productive and respectful” relationship. Turner served as one of the honorary co-chairs of her transition team.
The county executive also brought gifts for each of the 11 lawmakers — clocks inscribed with an African proverb: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Council members have said they will be scrutinizing the record of Melinda Bolling, whom Alsobrooks appointed to lead the Department of Permitting and Inspections.
Bolling is the subject of a whistleblower lawsuit centered on her leadership of the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. She has been criticized by advocates and lawmakers in the District for failing to improve the agency, which has long been the subject of complaints about lack of transparency and poor customer service, among other issues.
Alsobrooks has called Bolling an ethical, innovative leader who has been thoroughly vetted.
Outgoing County Council Chair Dannielle M. Glaros (D-District 3) said Alsobrooks’s list of appointees includes more newcomers to Prince George’s than she has seen in previous administrations, which Glaros said speaks to Alsobrooks’s promise to mix institutional knowledge with new talent from outside the county.
“It also means we are going to be closely looking at all these names,” Glaros said. “There’s a push and pull that’s natural and supposed to happen.”
Glaros said the council had several notable accomplishments over the past year, including a record investment in nonprofits, a rewrite of the county’s zoning laws and a housing report focused on building sustainable communities connected to economic development.
In his speech, Turner compared the 11-person council to a professional football team with a mixture of veterans, rookies and free agents, drawing laughs from the audience when he clarified that they would be different from the Washington Redskins, whose home stadium is in Prince George’s and who lost to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, 28-13.
Freshman council member Rodney Streeter (D-District 7), a longtime council aide to former council member Andrea C. Harrison (D-District 5), was unanimously elected vice chair. He is one of six new members of the all-Democratic council, along with Thomas E. Dernoga (District 1), who previously served on the council from 2002-2010; Jolene Ivey (District 5), a former state delegate and candidate for lieutenant governor who as a state lawmaker chaired the Prince George’s delegation in Annapolis; Monique Anderson-Walker (District 8), a Realtor and community activist; Sydney Harrison (District 9), a former clerk of the circuit court; and Calvin Hawkins (D-At Large), a longtime aide to then-county executives Rushern L. Baker III (D) and Wayne K. Curry (D).
Mel Franklin, who has represented District 9 for two terms, holds the other at-large seat.
Four incumbents won reelection — Turner, Glaros, Derrick Leon Davis (District 6) and Deni Taveras (District 2).
The packed audience in the council chambers in Upper Marlboro, which included former council members, gave the council and Alsobrooks multiple standing ovations.
Turner promised in remarks following his speech to take his new “responsibility and role seriously.”
“My goal is to be a bridge builder,” he said. “Service. Community. Progress. That’s the plan.”
A theme in remarks from Alsobrooks and the council members was the need to put the interests of residents above the politics of elected officials.
“Give them the strength and wisdom to carry out the people’s will,” longtime council employee Howard Stone said in his invocation, as the council members held hands and bowed their heads.