SEABROOK – Democratic nominee for State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy will officially run unopposed for the position while potential candidate Bruce Johnson will continue his campaign but as a write in-candidate.
The changes come after Johnson dropped his lawsuit against the Board of Election on Sept. 11. Johnson, a former prosecutor, sued the agency on Aug. 31 for rejecting 541 signatures in his petition, making him short of one percent of registered voters needed to run as an Independent for the general election.
Johnson said that there were “technical issues” blocking the lawsuit from moving forward, mainly the Election Law that states a petition must have a voter’s “surname of registration and at least one full given name and the initials of any other names.” Instead of continuing to fight, Johnson dropped the case and decided to stay as a write-in candidate.
“I think voters should have a choice to choose someone who has done the job before,” Johnson said. “The current candidate (Braveboy) has zero trial experience, not even a speeding ticket, and she would be overseeing over 100 trial attorneys, administrative personnel, paralegals and investigators dealing with trial work. I think that is a disservice to the citizens of Prince George’s County.”
Despite the long odds for write-in candidates to win elections, Johnson states his experience as a trial attorney, combined with his desire to be in the role long-term, can convince enough voters to write his name in the ballot.
Meanwhile, Braveboy has continued pressing forward through her campaign, gaining more democratic support as gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous and County Executive nominee Angela Alsobrooks attended one of her campaign events on Sept. 13.
The former state delegate said their support is essential to passing her initiatives, including increasing prosecutors’ salaries to make them “on-par” with the rest of the state.
“Moving forward, my hope is that both of them are elected into their respective offices because my relationship with them will be critical to my success of my office,” Braveboy said. “I look forward to expanding resources for the office and establishing new programs so having the support of the county executive, the governor as well as members of the council is critical in the success of that.”
One of the pillars of Braveboy’s campaign is juvenile justice reform, explicitly expanding the diversion program. Growing the program would allow the Department of Juveniles to turn over cases dealing with minors to non-profit organizations versus the attorney’s office to give children “community-based intervention” instead of incarceration, Braveboy said.
“We have been able to divert close to 4,000 children from the criminal justice system so that type of diversion is something we would like to continue and expand,” Braveboy said. “Working with the State’s Attorney’s office will allow for us to work together more closely because programs like this allow (us) to give young people a chance.”
Johnson said that he is prepared to debate or be a part of a candidate forum with Braveboy if she desires to do so. Braveboy declined to comment on questions about Johnson but stated that she plans to have “listening forum or sessions” with voters in the future.
BOE District 3
Community activist Pamela Boozer-Strother and former Board of Education (BOE) Student Member Juwan Blocker plan to take part in a candidate forum on Sept. 25 at First Baptist Church of Glenarden Ministry Center to make their case to voters before November’s run-off vote for the vacated seat representing District 3 in the county’s school agency.
On June 26, Boozer-Strother finished in first place with 47.3 percent of the primary vote while Blocker finished second, becoming the two candidates battling out for the position left by Dinora Hernandez. Since winning the primary ballot, Boozer-Strother stated she has not stopped campaigning, even canvassing the neighborhood to reach out to potential voters.
“My supporters from the primary are very excited that we came in first place and now, we are making sure that I introduce myself to voters that will come out to the general on Nov. 6,” Boozer-Strother said. “I am already involved in our schools every day, and I am very experienced as I have serviced on boards of directors all over Prince George’s County.”
Blocker, who was a part of the school board during the 2016-2017 academic school year as a student member, has hosted multiple campaign and fundraising events, the most recent on Sept. 15, while majoring in history and government with a minor in pre-law at Bowie State University.
Just as other members on the board balance a work life outside of representing their district on the board, Blocker said his educational pursuits would not negate his ability to fulfill his BOE obligations if elected.
“The responsibility of being a full-time school-board member will be very similar to what it was as a student member when I was on (the BOE) last year,” Blocker said. “But at the end of the day, it all balances out because what I am learning in the classroom is being applied in the role of a school board member and vice versa.”
Both candidates look for solutions to the overcrowding issue affecting many area schools, specifically Hyattsville Elementary and Middle Schools. Boozer-Strother said her availability and experience communicating with parents and teachers would help in finding solutions. Recently graduated from Parkdale High School, Blocker stated his recent experience dealing with the issue would help communicate the problem to current BOE members.