Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (center) receives an endorsement for her reelection bid from AFSCME Council 67 on May 19. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)
Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (center) receives an endorsement for her reelection bid from AFSCME Council 67 on May 19. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks continues to receive plenty of public support in her bid for reelection to lead the state of Maryland’s second largest jurisdiction.

But she called Thursday’s endorsement from AFSCME Council 67 her “proudest” – one which includes about 1,200 members in the county working as crossing guards, health inspectors, human resource representatives and other employees.

“These are the men and women I work shoulder to shoulder with, especially during COVID-19,” Alsobrooks said outside the council’s office in Largo. “To have their respect and trust means everything. If these folks don’t support and respect you, then nothing else happens.”

Alsobrooks admitted she worked “extremely hard” to earn the union’s confidence, especially when she didn’t receive its endorsement during her first run for county executive four years ago. However, the union’s support may have come following a recent, two-year contract agreement which goes into effect July 1. It includes a $4 per hour salary increase for crossing guards. The starting pay previously began just below $14 per hour.

Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (second from left) poses with (from left) AFSCME members Jason Carter, Kwame Rose and Jewel Kendall. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Jason Carter, labor relations specialist with AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Council 67, said his 17-year-old daughter, who worked her first job last year at McDonald’s, began with an hourly wage of $14. 

“We have a group of people who are responsible for making sure our children get back and forth [to school] every day starting out with a lower wage,” he said. “We worked really hard and came up with a fair number. It made them the second-lowest paying crossing guards in the state of Maryland right up there with Montgomery County. That’s a credit to the county executive and her staff who agreed with this.”

Kwame Rose, staff specialist for the council, said members will receive a 14% pay increase and training for certifications with pay and classification studies done for every AFSCME position in the county.

“AFSCME wasn’t taken care of as much as other bargaining units,” Rose said. “But we set a new course and hopefully that course is the new tradition and new normal coming out of this pandemic.”

Besides Alsobrooks, a registered Democrat, the other four Democratic candidates running for county executive include: Leigh Bodden, Billy W. Bridges, Sherman Hardy and Tonya Sweat.

Alsobrooks’ support runs deep financially with $1.2 million reported in her campaign finance report in January.

She also has the backing of elected officials including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer who, on May 10, said outside MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton that he “wanted Angela to be our governor.”

“Angela is doing an extraordinary job . . . making [Prince George’s] county one of the most respected in the United States under challenging times,” he said. 

But those endorsements have not intimidated the other county executive candidates.

“Just because you’re an incumbent doesn’t guarantee you a seat,” said Sweat, an attorney from Accokeek who also runs her own consulting firm. “We should never get so comfortable in our democracy that we assume that because a person wins one election, they’re entitled to win the next one. It’s a job that must be earned and not just given to a person.”

Hardy, of Clinton, said he takes the union endorsement for Alsobrooks “with a grain of salt.”

“There are the fans of Angela with the high school glitz and glory,” said Hardy, a real estate agent and Air Force veteran. “There are people who want something different. We can do better. The current county executive has not been present.”

Less than two months before the July 19 primary election, Hardy, Sweat and Bridges participated in a virtual candidate’s forum Saturday, May 21.

Bridges, an Air Force veteran and 24-year employee of the county’s public school, ran for the office in 2018 and pushed to incorporate prayer in public schools.

“I think now is the time to uplift our families in Prince George’s County to a position where we are no longer sharecroppers and more in line of being owners in our county,” he said. “To uplift all of our citizens, we need to make sure that they understand there’s got to be total accountability in government.”

Bodden, a former NFL player and county native who resides in Bowie, didn’t respond to emails for comment.

No registered Republicans filed documents to run for county executive. Gary Falls represents the only member of the GOP seeking one of the County Council seats.

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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