UPPER MARLBORO – In her first address as the new County Executive, Angela Alsobrooks remarked on how undervalued Prince George’s County is considered in the state of Maryland and referenced its history and growth since its beginning.
In the end, she announced to the audience at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro on Dec. 3 that she is more than qualified to lead the “jewel” county of the state into a new era of expansion and growth.
“I want to let you all in on an open secret, Prince George’s County is the Crown Jewel of Maryland,” Alsobrooks said.
“Now, that may not have been a surprise to many of us in this room, but right now, I am here with all of you to make sure that the state, the region, the country and the world all know who we are and what we are.”
Alsobrooks’ historic confirmation makes her the first woman and African American woman executive, joining a recent trend of women taking higher positions in office throughout the area.
After winning a competitive Democratic primary on June 26, the former state’s attorney has faced few roadblocks before winning an unopposed election to confirm the historic moment.
The Camp Springs native thanked her family for their support during her candidacy, with special recognition for her daughter Alexandra.
During the campaign, Alsobrooks attempted to keep her away from all the noise. However, she felt the need of explaining how their dynamic of a single working mother with a growing teenager has worked during her whole career.
“There were mornings I had to leave too early to take her to school, nights I got home too late to tuck her in and weekends where she spent the afternoon with me, listening to victims of crime or concerned citizens about issues that she was too young to understand,” Alsobrooks said fully. “…But like a true champion, she kept her head up, brought home straight As and in her own words, ‘even smoke a few competitors on the track.’”
As the former state’s attorney working alongside former County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, Alsobrooks was a part of recent changes that have impacted the county in the past eight years.
The 50 percent drop in crime, the groundbreaking of a new hospital and establishing Prince George’s as a new hub of investment has increased its profile.
The improvements run counter to the negative stereotypes of its citizens and climate that have plagued the county for decades, Alsobrooks said.
Alsobrooks noted that the county’s understated history of being a key station on the underground railroad for African American slaves, providing land for the construction of Washington, D.C. and being the home of both the state’s flagship public university (University of Maryland) and its oldest historically black college (Bowie State) is rarely mentioned.
Alsobrooks said that she too had similar feelings, focusing on the negatives during her youth. Now, she asked for county residents to appreciate the county’s history with pride.
With District of Colombia Mayor Muriel Bowser in attendance, Alsobrooks quickly attacked those negative notions with hope that the perception of the county will change under her leadership.
“We are sisters raised here to be recklessly proud of our hometowns,” Alsobrooks said. “So, I know you won’t take this personally but Prince Georgians, write this down: We are not Ward 9!”
In her new role, Alsobrooks plans to unite her past success of a 21-year career in public service to complete her campaign goals with the help of the new 11-person County Council.
The inauguration ceremony featured the swearing-in of all members of the council including its two new At-Large members: Former District 9 Councilmember Mel Franklin and fellow Democrat Calvin Hawkins.
They joined Alsobrooks in the front row seating area onstage, taking in the moment of their new roles in the council and being a part of history. Hawkins, a former Special Advisor for former Executives Baker and Wayne Curry, raised a fist in the air before being sworn in, acknowledging a contingent of supporters wearing yellow, his campaign colors, in attendance.
“It was very emotional for me to see the people come out after the election to show their same support,” Hawkins said. “That will keep me grounded during the transition, and I am looking forward to it.”
Expectations are high for county officials as they attempt to accomplish the majority of their campaign promises during the next four years. While keeping its economic growth is one of those key missions, ensuring middle-class families can continue to afford to live in it is a delicate balance that can be met under her administration, Alsobrooks said.
“Today is a day that I’ve worked for and dreamed about for a long time, and my solemn promise to each of you is that every day when I wake up and every night when I go to sleep, I will carry the hopes and dreams of your families with me,” said Alsobrooks.
Echoes of excitement poured throughout and after the event concluded as Alsobrooks and the council members said they could not wait to collaborate during their press conferences. The county still has goals to accomplish, like universal pre-kindergarten and progress of the purple line, that must be accomplished to keep it vibrant for years to come.
“Prosperity has to be universal in the county,” Franklin said. “It cannot be one part of the county and others not; for Prince George’s County to succeed, all parts of the county have to succeed, so I am so happy to work together with my colleagues and County Executive Alsobrooks to see it happen.”