Though Maryland’s primary election won’t happen for another nine months, dozens of prospective candidates from Prince George’s County have emerged.
As of Sunday, Sept. 17, at least two dozen people have either filed or declared to run for various offices such as county executive, school board and sheriff.
The county council has 13 Democratic candidates running for five district seats vacated by term limits. Council members are allowed to serve just two consecutive four-year terms.
Meanwhile, voters approved in the November election to expand the council from nine members to 11 by adding two at-large seats.
Although council Chairman Derrick Davis (D-District 6) of Upper Marlboro joined the board due to a special election in 2011, he will seek re-election after he completes his first full term next year.
Because the county has an overwhelming Democratic majority, the winners of the June 26 primary would be favored in the general election.
“This is a good opportunity to serve the people in a way you can have a strong impact on what happens in Prince George’s County,” said Jolene Ivey, a former state delegate seeking the District 5 seat vacated next year by Councilwoman Andrea Harrison of Springdale.
Ivey, wife of former county State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, currently runs her own marketing company with clients such as the county’s Park and Recreation and Bowie State University.
Gary Falls of Oxon Hill will be one of three currently seeking the District 7 seat to replace Councilwoman Karen Toles of Suitland.
Falls, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, retired from the D.C. Department of Corrections where he worked for 25 years as a correctional officer and supervisor.
One possible item that could be eliminated when new members take office: travel privileges.
A three-member Vehicle Use Review Board recommended last week to eliminate take-home vehicles for council members and administrators. None of the neighboring jurisdictions allow this, according to the 100-plus-page document.
The advisory board also recommended to update the reimbursement rate for mileage to 53.5 cents per mile based on a 2017 Internal Revenue Service rate. The current county figure stands at 36 cents.
Ivey said she agreed with the board recommending changes to the program and would rather use her own car to travel.
Falls said the money toward vehicle allowance could be used toward nonprofit organizations to hire seniors to mentor youth in single-parent households.
“Council leaders making transparent efforts that benefit Prince George’s County citizens should be paid for by honest taxpayer dollars,” he said.
The review board’s research started in December, one month prior to Councilman Mel Franklin (D-District 9) crashing a county vehicle into the back of another vehicle and injuring two people.
On May 12, Franklin pleaded guilty, completed a 12-week alcohol education program and voluntarily enrolled in a state ignition interlock program. A judge sentenced him to probation and a $645 fine.
Meanwhile, Franklin seeks one of the two at-large seats along with Calvin Hawkins, who’s served in county government for nearly 30 years.
Hawkins, who once served as senior adviser to County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, delivered the proclamation at a Sept. 16 memorial service for Dick Gregory memorial service at Jericho City of Praise in Landover.
Although state and national races typically heat up after the Labor Day holiday, Prince George’s Election Administrator Alisha Alexander said the county historically sees more of an uptick of candidate filings in December, including incumbents ousted by term limits who are seeking another public office.
Qualifications for certain positions vary.
For the county council, a person must reside in a particular district, a registered voter, complete a financial disclosure and campaign committee forms. Same rules apply for at-large candidates, but they can live anywhere in the county.
“You are going to have a lot of interest with the at-large positions and…when an office is wide open because there will no longer be an incumbent,” she said. However, “we can never anticipate how many individuals are going to file for that office.”
Those interested in running for council and other offices have until Feb. 28.
For a list of candidates for county council and other races, go to http://bit.ly/2ftWlJs.