UPPER MARLBORO – The Prince George’s County Council wants more of, what it feels is, a good thing. At the annual Gavel Exchange ceremony held Dec. 6, the council voted unanimously to elect Derrick Davis (D-6) and Dannielle Glaros (D-3) as chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the council for the second year in a row. […]
UPPER MARLBORO – The Prince George’s County Council wants more of, what it feels is, a good thing.
At the annual Gavel Exchange ceremony held Dec. 6, the council voted unanimously to elect Derrick Davis (D-6) and Dannielle Glaros (D-3) as chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the council for the second year in a row. The council also took its first actions of the 2017 legislative year, addressing the policies surrounding the use of county vehicles.
“I am profoundly grateful to our constituents and to my esteemed colleagues on this council for the privilege to serve. Public service is my life’s passion and I consider each opportunity to lead a high honor,” Davis said after his election. “I will continue to give my all. My leadership of this body, and our work together as the council, will leave Prince George’s County a better place.”
He also offered praise for Vice-Chair Glaros.
“I’m happy to say that you’ll serve again as my catcher in this leadership year to come. She is a true public servant,” he said.
Davis said the council spent the past year “accomplishing big things on purpose,” from the new regional medical center to a growing economy. The council worked well not only together, but also with the executive branch, Davis said.
“I embrace the team theme, because I am one of those people who truly believes together, everyone achieves more. I know it’s contrite and overused, but ultimately it is the team that allows us to advance the ball here in Prince George’s County,” he said.
County Executive Rushern Baker, III said he agreed that the county had made progress in a number of areas this past year and looked forward to continuing to work with the council leadership to advance common goals.
“I look forward to working with them, and the rest of the council, as we strive to move our great county forward and improve the quality of life for all our residents, citizens and businesses,” he said in a statement. “Good things are happening in Prince George’s County. Housing prices are rising. We are creating new jobs. And we are a healthier community. I am confident that we will continue to be successful in 2017 with Mr. Davis and Ms. Glaros leading the council.”
Davis also outlined some of the council’s plans for the 2017 legislative year. At the state and regional level, he said the council will push for money for education in the county and for policies to strengthen the Metro system. Locally, the council will continue 2016 projects such as the zoning ordinance rewrite, the development of a comprehensive housing strategy, and combatting domestic violence, he said.
“The (2016) initiative is the start of a continuing offensive against a horrible tragedy, and we will extend our legislative efforts in the year 2017,” Davis said.
The Blue Ribbon Commission on Addressing the Structural Deficit will deliver its final recommendations next year, and the school system performance audit is also completed, which Davis said would guide council actions on school system oversight and addressing “structural matters” to put the county in better long-term financial shape.
Some changes are also coming to the council in 2017. For the first time, standing committee meetings will be recorded and shared online for greater transparency, Davis said. He also indicated that changes to the committee structure would most likely be implemented as part of the council’s work getting ready for the addition of two new at-large members to the body, as approved by voters in November.
“In legislative year 2017, we will begin preparing for that important change,” he said.
The council’s first actions of legislative year 2017 were also conducted at the Dec. 6 meeting. It unanimously passed Council Resolution 1-2017, which creates a vehicle use review board consisting of three citizen members – one from North, Central and South County – to review procedures related to use of county vehicles. It would also have the authority to recommend a council member’s county-owned vehicle use privileges be removed for cause.
The move comes in response to the November arrest of Councilman Mel Franklin on DUI and other charges while driving a county-owned vehicle.
But some in the county feel the action doesn’t go far enough.
“We think the review board is a step in the right direction – a review of county vehicle use policies, more oversight, and more accountability to county residents are all good things. However, the creation of the review board doesn’t do much to address this specific situation,” said Jennifer Dwyer with Progressive Maryland, which called for Franklin to resign as a result of the incident. “The main issue isn’t that he crashed a county vehicle, it’s that he made a dangerous and illegal decision, and people were hurt as a result. That’s a really big deal, and the council must address it.”