First in a series of profiles of the top candidates for Prince George’s county executive.
State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks danced into the ballroom, “Eye of the Tiger” blasting, as more than 1,000 of her supporters clapped along.
Alsobrooks (D), who is running to succeed Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), listened as the county’s teenage poet laureate read a poem about her, as NBA star Kevin Durant’s mother praised her as “one of the home girls” from her neighborhood and as top county leaders — including past and present members of the General Assembly and County Council — called her an effective leader who is best prepared to get the job done. Then she took the stage.
“I can feel the strong women who have come before us and laid a brick down,” Alsobrooks told the largely female crowd. “We are here today because of our inheritance.”
Alsobrooks, 47, is completing her second term as the county’s lead prosecutor, trying cases and managing a staff of 100 lawyers at a time when the violent crime rate has fallen 50 percent.
She is competing in the June 26 Democratic primary — which in heavily Democratic Prince George’s is tantamount to winning the election — against former congresswoman Donna F. Edwards, state Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s) and a clutch of lesser-known candidates: former Obama administration official Paul Monteiro, former lieutenant governor Samuel W. Bogley III, Lewis S. Johnson, Billy Bridges, Michael E. Kennedy and Tommie Thompson.
Many of her supporters have a story about a time when Alsobrooks has come through for them. Del. Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s) says she has called Alsobrooks at 11 p.m. about her constituents, including a young woman who was raped and another whose husband threatened her with a gun. Alsobrooks has “always” taken those calls, Peña-Melnyk said. “She inspires me . . . when you see her, you see she is bold and honest and has character.”
Alsobrooks secured funding for more attorneys and boosted conviction rates in an office that once struggled with botched cases. The work has required balancing punishment with rehabilitation, she said, and making sure the office is responsive to residents’ concerns.
Both Edwards and Muse, who campaign against the establishment, have clashed with Alsobrooks at forums, suggesting she is part of the county’s political elite. They have attacked her for taking campaign contributions from developers and for having worked early in her career as a prosecutor for then-State’s Attorney Jack B. Johnson (D), who went on to become county executive and was arrested at the end of his second term on federal corruption charges.
“They are so desperate to find anything negative that they connect me to someone who hired me two decades ago,” Alsobrooks said. “I have an unblemished ethical record and, unlike them, a record of successfully running county agencies for the past 14 years.”
She said the argument that a political machine is behind her is “insulting,” adding that she is “not some puppet, with these strings being pulled.”
The daughter of a newspaper distributor and a receptionist, Alsobrooks grew up in Camp Springs, Md., and studied public policy at Duke University. She said she always knew she wanted to come home and get involved in public service.
After law school at the University of Maryland, she became the first full-time attorney to handle domestic violence cases in Johnson’s office.
When Johnson was elected county executive, he hired Alsobrooks as his education adviser, then to lead the county’s Revenue Authority, a quasi-governmental organization that among other things oversees speed and red-light cameras and helps finance county construction projects. She held that job for six years — during which the agency increased revenue by 40 percent — before running for state’s attorney in 2010.
As state’s attorney, she makes a point of quickly getting to crime scenes. Supporters say she 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 has personally tried two high-profile murder cases — of a D.C. police officer accused of killing his mistress and leaving their infant daughter in a hot SUV to die, and a man in Fort Washington accused of killing his 2-year-old daughter and her mother over child support payments. In both cases, juries convicted the defendants.
Never married, she is raising a 12-year-old daughter, Alexandra, who attends private school in the county. Her parents still live in Prince George’s, as did her grandmother, who died two years ago after struggling with early onset dementia.
“I have the keenest sense ever of what families deal with every day,” Alsobrooks said. “There’s no corner in this county I feel like I don’t understand.”
On the campaign trail, Alsobrooks emphasizes the importance of better supporting teachers, keeping students in school so they are less likely to commit crimes and growing small local businesses to expand the commercial tax base.
She was the first woman elected state’s attorney in Prince George’s and would be the first female county executive if elected.
At a May forum, she said her mother once told her she does not “like a lot of talking” and has always taught her to focus on results.
“Trust me based on my record,” Alsobrooks told voters. “Not only having great ideas and solutions, but also being able to deliver for you.”
Next: Donna F. Edwards.
CORRECTION: Earlier versions of this article incorrectly said Alsobrooks was divorced. She has never been married. The article has been corrected.