UPPER MARLBORO — The Prince George’s County Council replaced five council members and gained two new at-large members during the midterm general election on Nov. 6.
County council at-large is a new position that passed during the 2016 election. Instead of presiding over just one district, the at-large council members will oversee all nine districts in Prince George’s County allowing voters to have three representatives.
Candidates for the new position were Democrats Mel Franklin, former county council District 9 member, and Calvin Hawkins, who served in the Department of Public Works, Office of Emergency Management and as a Special Adviser to county executive, as well as Republican Felicia Folarin.
Franklin took home 46.9 percent of the vote and Hawkins came in a very close second with 44.6 percent.
“Please accept my sincere appreciation to each and every one of you for your confidence and for your vote to serve you as one of your Prince George’s County council members at-large,” Hawkins said after the election. “I am eternally grateful to you. As we move forward together, I shall endeavor to work every day on your behalf to make our county a better place to live, grow and thrive.”
With the inclusion of the at-large members, Franklin said it will be an opportunity for more representation throughout the county.
“You’re going to have more engagement at the community level, more of an effort to bring residents closer to county government and more engagement with our municipalities,” he said. “We have just over a couple of dozen municipalities, and we want to improve engagement with them and the governing process as well as engagement with our state and federal workers.
“We have the opportunity to have a county-wide perspective really. It’s not about one part of the county versus the other, it’s about the entire county. We are one county and we are in this together.”
Franklin said his goals in continuing his service in county government center around leveraging economic investment to create more investment the people such as education, public safety, transportation and services for seniors and youth. His philosophy of “using economic empowerment to improve the quality of the lives of the residents” will assist in the critical process of growing the economy and working together as a council.
“I think we’re going to have a great team, every resident of the county will have three council members, their district and the county council at-large members, so the level of representation will go up as well as the level of community engagement.”
Prince George’s County also elected five new members to the county council. Tom Dernoga will replace Mary Lehman in District 1, Jolene Ivey succeeds Andrea Harrison in District 5, Rodney Streeter comes in after Karen Toles in District 7, Monique Anderson-Walker replaces Obie Patterson in District 8 and Sydney Harrison takes Mel Franklin’s place in District 9.
Council Chair and District 3 Council Member Dannielle Glaros, Vice Chair (District 4) Todd Turner (District 6) Derrick Leon Davis and District 2 Council Member Deni Taveras were all unopposed and re-elected.
“The key is to make sure I’m accessible to my constituents so they have someone they can easily reach when they need help and when they have ideas for the community,” Ivey said. “I want to have that be my foundation.”
Former District 47 delegate and chair of the Prince George’s County House Delegation in the Maryland House of Delegates, Ivey said her main goals coming into office are to focus on improving the environment and development, especially when it comes to upcoming projects in District 5 such as the Landover Mall.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to finally get something wonderful there instead of having it be an eyesore. So I’m looking forward to helping move that along and make sure it becomes something that people in the community are excited about.”
A civic activist and attorney for over 30 years, Dernoga served in District 1 from 2002 to 2010. During that time, he helped to bring about projects such as Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center, the Laurel High School auditorium, a new gymnasium and roof for Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School, a new roof and track for High Point High School and funding for the new Laurel Library.
Harrison, who won with over 90 percent of the vote, served as clerk of the circuit court as well as on the Democratic Central Committee and has spearheaded various community outreach projects.
As part of his campaign, Harrison has advocated heavily for the increase of educational resources and free community college, improved health care, public safety, infrastructure and enhanced economic development around the county’s metro stations.
A long-time businesswoman, Monique Anderson-Walker has worked as a real estate agent for 18 years and was principal broker of Fleur de Lis, LLC Commercial Real Estate Brokerage and Development Advisory Services. Also working on various outreach efforts for the county, she brought the Veterans Affairs Medical Center Outpatient Clinic to Prince George’s County and has worked with the St. Ann’s Center for Youth, Families and Children.
Streeter previously served as chief of staff for District 5 of the county council as well as in Washington, D.C. government.
“Every person on the county council, whether they’ve been there before or they are new, I think we’ve got a really strong group of people coming on and I’m proud to be among them,” Ivey said. “I think it’s going to be a really positive experience for each of us as individuals and for the county to have us working for them.”