The Prince George’s County Council voted unanimously Tuesday, May 3 to appoint District Heights Mayor Johnathan M. Medlock to fill a vacant seat on the 11-member body.
Medlock, who became acting mayor in November 2019 and won in a special election in July 2020, replaces former Council member Derrick Leon Davis who resigned April 15.
“I feel honored. I feel like this is an opportunity for me to elevate from being the mayor in the city of District Heights to really focusing on the county,” Medlock said in an interview. “As a mayor, the biggest thing I do is make sure I’m in the community and being involved and engaged and seeing where the problems lie. I want to do that representing District 6.”
Medlock, who has chosen to serve the remaining seven months of Davis’ term, which expires in December, as the representative for District 6 which includes the city of District Heights, Forestville, Largo and parts of Upper Marlboro.
A tentative date to swear in Medlock has been scheduled for Monday, May 9.
“I welcome Mr. Medlock to the council on an interim basis,” said Council member Tom Dernoga (D-District 1) of Laurel, who added this may have been the council’s first vote to appoint a person since 1994.
One of the main items Medlock must address this year will focus on a proposed $5 billion fiscal year 2023 budget of which the public school system accounts for $2.6 billion – more than half of the entire spending plan.
In terms of District 6, the mayor said he wants to assess policies providing tax credits for seniors, increase amenities for the Westphalia neighborhood in Upper Marlboro, provide additional youth services and decrease “the stem of violence within our community.”
Medlock will yield the District 6 seat to one of five Black women, all Democrats, each of whom hopes to be elected in the July 19 primary.
Prince George’s has the most registered Democrats in the state of Maryland, so the winner in the primary will more than likely succeed in the November general election and assume the helm for a four-year term a month later.
Two of the candidates, Belinda Queen and Nakia Wright, submitted their resumes and a letter of interest to seek appointment to the seat.
Some residents and local community groups requested that the council choose a candidate to complete Davis’ term who would not be on the primary ballot because it could present an unfair advantage while diminishing the opportunity for voters to select a candidate.
“Our alliance of civic, good-government and environmental organizations [called] . . . on the Council to let democracy work and to let the voters of District 6 decide at the ballot box who should represent them for the next four years,” Greg Smith of Sustainable Hyattsville wrote in an email Tuesday. “We’re glad the Council heeded our call.”
Several council members thanked the nine people who applied while acknowledging that the choice wasn’t easy.
“We had a challenging decision to make. We had a lot of information back and forth from the community,” said Council member Mel Franklin (D-At-Large) of Upper Marlboro. “But ultimately, our job is to make the best decision we can. It will be a privilege to work with Mr. Medlock.”
Medlock said “it’s bittersweet” stepping down as mayor. The city’s Vice Mayor Cynthia Miller will assume his mayoral duties.
Meanwhile, the city of 6,000 people will hold its election July 11 and Miller said Tuesday she’s seeking the office of mayor. She said certification of those running for seats on the city’s board of commissioners will be done this month.
“I’m excited,” she said in reference to her decision to run for mayor. “We have been working behind the scenes to change some things. We’re excited to take the city to another level.”