Council member Calvin S. Hawkins II (D-At Large), who often served this year as a bridge between the council’s new members and its incumbents, was unanimously elected vice chair. He said he wants to work with each of his 10 colleagues to ensure that their decision-making is not overly parochial.
The gavel exchange marked the end of the legislative session for the all-Democratic council, which this year included two new at-large seats — one held by Hawkins and the other by former District 9 representative Mel Franklin.
Some new members this year vocally questioned the council’s use of bills called “text amendments,” which they said did not give residents adequate opportunity to voice concerns about zoning changes. Turner and other incumbents defended the measures, which were used to pave the way for approval of a proposed Amazon warehouse that was opposed by residents and, eventually, abandoned by the company.
Council member Jolene Ivey (D-District 5) said at a news conference Tuesday that she wants to see “more transparency and more information-sharing” next year.
“This year was a learning experience for everyone,” Turner said during the news conference, adding that he wants to focus on building “team Prince George’s” during the council’s 2020 legislative session to ensure that all officials are on the same page.
There were relatively few high-profile clashes this year with Alsobrooks, who was in her first year leading the county of 900,000 residents.
The council passed legislation to bar county agencies from engaging in immigration enforcement, overhaul the county’s animal control ordinance and approve several contentious zoning changes, including allowing townhouses to be built on the site of a small airport in Bowie.
Council members vowed to work to ensure that all residents are counted in the 2020 Census, noting that vast swaths of the county were undercounted in 2010, leading to a gap in federal funding coming to Prince George’s.