UPPER MARLBORO – Council Member Todd Turner (D-District 4) was unanimously selected as the new Prince George’s County Council Chair for the 2019 legislative term and promised to be the “bridge builder” to unite the elected administrative body with the goals set by new Executive Angela Alsobrooks on Dec. 4.
In the first council meeting with the expansion of 11 members, including the addition of two at-large seats, Turner, who was re-elected in the November General Election, compared the council to a football team they prepared to tackle the hard tasks to establishing a functioning county with a focus on service, community and progress. The District 4 council member was the vice chair during the 2018 legislative period.
He will replace Dannielle Glaros (D-District 3) as council chair after she spent 2018 in the role and the two years prior in the vice chair position.
“Like a football team preparing to take the field for the first game of the season, we are 11-members strong and ready to meet the challenges ahead,” Turner said in his gavel exchange address. “While our positions on the field may be different, we all share the same goal – building a strong team and winning for Prince George’s County.”
After winning an eight-person Democratic Primary and an unopposed general election in November, new Council Member Rodney Streeter (D-District 7) was unanimously selected as the vice chair.
Streeter was the chief of staff for District 5 Council member Andrea Harrison before being elected. Turner called Streeter his “co-captain” and was prepared to work together to help lead the council.
In his opening statement, Turner acknowledged the County Council’s goals for the new year: education, public safety, health care, transportation, quality of life and economic development.
With new County Executive Alsobrooks in attendance, it will be key to work with her administration to make sure all the goals both sides have are completed efficiently, Turner said.
“This moment is significant in that we are exchanging the gavel; there are new faces, and it reminds me of the insecurity of time,” Alsobrooks said. “Together, the time we have is finite, but the work that we do, if we do it well, will last well beyond us. Years from now people may not remember our names, but they will remember the work we did together.”
New At-Large Council Member Mel Franklin (D) worked with Alsobrooks during her time as the county’s state’s attorney in the Baker Administration.
His relationship with Alsobrooks will now have to include the council and continue staying positive to ensure that the correct decisions are made for residents, Franklin said.
“I am thrilled with the team mentality she has,” Franklin said. “That will be an essential thing for our success to be successful for all our residents and all of our families; Prosperity is the goal, and it is going to take us coming together.”
One of the first things the new council will have to address is Alsobrooks’ selections for cabinet positions.
On Nov. 29, her incoming administration announced via press the selection of three senior staff members and six agency leaders, most of which have experience outside the county.
“In order to ensure efficient, effective services for our citizens, our goal was to appoint people with a proven track record in the areas for which they were selected,” Alsobrooks said. “I am confident in our selections, and I believe our citizens will be as well.”
One of Alsobrooks’ appointees, Melinda Bolling, has raised attention due to her past work in Washington, D.C. Bolling, was selected to run the county’s Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement (DPIE), who has faced scrutiny recently after electrical problems surfaced after a young girl was electrocuted at MGM National Harbor Resort in Oxon Hill on June 26.
Bolling recently left a similar post in the Washington, D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs in November after holding the position since 2015.
A lawsuit filed on Aug. 10 claims that under Bolling’s leadership, employees were not trained on how to gather public records in a timely manner and she attempted to retaliate on negative feedback.
Alsobrooks addressed concerns after her inauguration on Dec. 3, stating that her administration had properly vetted Bolling and her “proven track record.”
“She went through the same process as our other selections,” Alsobrooks said. “She is a person whose reputation is of high ethics, she’s innovated and holds people accountable. We vetted her, and the County Council will likewise have the opportunity to meet her, interview her but we are very confident with what she has done in the District of Columbia.”
Several council members voiced the importance of properly interviewing each of Alsobrooks’ nominees to provide the county the best options for those leadership roles.
While recognizing her historic selection as the first woman sworn in as county executive, Turner said the council still must do its diligence during the appointment process.
“I look forward to our shared leadership with our colleagues over the next year,” Turner said. “Working together, this council has covered a lot of distance, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. We will continue our commitment to the legislative priorities that place at its core an enhanced quality of life for county residents.”