Derrick Leon Davis, one of the longest-serving members on Prince George’s County Council, will serve his last day Friday, April 15.
Davis said he plans to “rest, restore, pray and pursue.” One item not on his agenda: “run for office.”
“There’s some interesting things on the horizon that I will contemplate but I made no commitment to anybody,” he said. “I really felt like it was the perfect opportunity [to step down].”
Davis, appointed in 2011, elected twice in 2014 and 2018 and who served as the council chair twice, first began public service in the county in 1992 as a constituent services aide for former County Council member JoAnn T. Bell.
He counts as the second council member to resign in the last five months.
Monique Anderson-Walker resigned in November to serve as running mate for Maryland Comptroller and gubernatorial candidate Peter Franchot. A special election took place earlier this year to fill Anderson-Walker’s seat. Voters chose former school board member Edward Burroughs III to represent District 8.
However, no special election will be held for Davis’s District 6 seat.
According to the county charter, when a vacancy occurs in the final year of a person’s term, County Council will appoint “a qualified person to fill the vacancy within 30 calendar days.”
So far, five Black women have filed paperwork to run for District 6 in the July 19 primary election: Wala Blegay, Barbara Holt Streeter, Belinda Queen, Denise Smith and Nakia Wright. The area includes District Heights, Forestville and parts of Upper Marlboro.
Council members can only run for two consecutive terms.
As for Davis, colleagues credit his message of doing “Big Things on Purpose” on projects such as negotiations for the University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center in Largo.
Along with County Council member Mel Franklin (D-At-Large) of Upper Marlboro, the longest-serving member on the board, Davis worked to restructure and modernize the more than 50-year zoning and subdivision ordinance.
Davis endured criticism from residents on various rezoning projects in his district including Westphalia in Upper Marlboro about three years ago. He co-sponsored legislation to provide exemptions to bring a proposed merchandise logistics center, basically an Amazon warehouse, as a way to bring in more county revenue.
Residents in the Westphalia neighborhood along Pennsylvania Avenue wanted more retail stores. They hired an attorney to challenge the warehouse project which would be eventually withdrawn.
Last year, Davis withdrew two bills he sponsored to request property along Central Avenue west of Six Flags in Upper Marlboro to be rezoned for commercial use. Velocity Companies of Greenbelt sought to build a shopping center that sits across the street from Cameron Grove, a 55-and-older community.
He also supported a controversial redistricting map in November, which the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled last month could not be used. The court said a map prepared by a three-member redistricting commission will represent the county’s nine district boundaries for the next decade.
“I was told when [Davis] first started out, everybody thought he was the future of the Democratic Party and would be such a great leader,” said Phillippa Johnston, president of the Cameron Grove Community Association.
“Sometimes power gets to you. Then you lose your sight and your vision. He’s a classic example of that. I’m glad he’s gone and good riddance,” Johnston said.
Davis credits his wife, Sherry, to keep him grounded and remain focused on the best interest of Prince George’s.
“I was called to govern but blessed with leadership. Leadership isn’t easy. Those who seek to please everyone will ultimately please no one,” he said. “Everyone will not agree with you all the time, but I will always do what I think is right and I will always do what I think is right for the people who I love dearly and the county that I love dearly. I can go home every day to my wife, to my family and to my God and know that I did his work.”