SEABROOK – The Prince George’s County Council unanimously reelected Todd Turner to lead as its chair and voted in At-Large Councilmember Calvin Hawkins II as the new vice chair on Dec. 3.
Councilmember Derrick L. Davis nominated Turner to continue in his role, commending him for his work in attempting to overhaul the zoning laws and leading the writing of a new housing strategy for the county. Under Turner’s leadership, the council adopted its fiscal year 2020 budget, a total of $4.3 billion for all funds, before June, with education comprising 60% at $2.1 billion.
“When you think about what it takes, the number of years, the time it takes, the level of skill, and to be held in high esteem by your colleagues to be considered a leader among leaders, it takes a lot,” Davis said.
The council also passed several pieces of legislation in the past year during Turner’s tenure, including established a new animal ordinance and barring county agencies from communication with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Lastly, with the use of a text amendment and help of the planning board, they played a part in a failed attempt to bring an Amazon fulfillment center to Westphalia.
“I will continue to earn my leadership daily as this council continues building on its successful legacy for Prince George’s County,” Turner said. “…It has been an honor to lead the council through this pivotal point in Prince George’s County’s history, and it is a blessing throughout measure to serve alongside each of you as you are all dedicated, gifted, hardworking and passionate public servants.”
Hawkins, who was elected in 2018 as one of the two new At-Large seats added to the council, will take over for District 7 Councilmember Rodney C. Streeter. District 2 Councilmember Deni Taveras nominated Hawkins, calling her decision as a way to grow more leadership within the council. After his unanimous selection, Streeter and Hawkins shared an embrace as they switched seats.
“Thank you for accepting the challenge of leadership,” Turner said. “Your experience and team spirit will be critical components to achieving our legislative goals in the coming year.”
Priorities heading to the next term will be to continue working on education funding, with the help of the Kirwan Commission funding, to best benefit the county and working with County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in overhauling the county’s zone maps. Turner said he hopes the changes in zoning will allow an increase in commercial development, which would improve the county’s tax base.
One of the first topics facing the council when they return from recess is filling in the vacant seat in the District 4 seat in the Prince George’s County Board of Education. The District 4 seat has been vacant since former representative Patricia Eubanks resigned on Sept. 30. Alsobrooks announced on Nov. 20 her nominee for the role would be Bryan M. Swann, who currently works at the U.S. Department of Treasury as the deputy director of the Office of Financial Management.
With Turner at the helm, the council has maintained a fruitful relationship with the executive branch and has approved all of Alsobrooks’ nominees to government roles.
According to Turner, once all the paperwork has been finalized, the council will begin reviewing Swann’s application and vote on his appointment to the District 4 seat.
“We will continue to build on the strong collaborations we have established with the County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, state lawmakers, regional and municipal government leaders, our communities, businesses, nonprofits and other county stakeholders,” Turner said. “These partnerships are already bettering the lives of our residents and move us closer to the coveted signature wins for Prince George’s County.”
The council also announced new 2020 committee assignments to its boards and commissions. According to Turner, changes made to amend the rules allowed for the restructuring of the committees.
“As we begin the second year of our term, we look to expand opportunities for leadership development among council members while maintaining the important budgetary and legislative work of the council’s committees in 2020,” Turner said.
Councilmember Sydney Harrison (District 9) will again chair the Education and Workforce Development Committee (EWD), with Taveras set to serve as vice-chair. Taveras will also serve as the chair to the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee (TIEE).
Streeter will preside over the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee (GOFP) with Councilmember Davis assisting as vice-chair. Hawkins will continue to serve as Health, Human Services and Public Safety Committee (HHSPS) chair and Councilmember Dannielle Glaros will return to the lead role in Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee (PHED).
Lastly, Councilmembers Davis and Taveras will watch over the General Assembly Committee as chair and vice-chair, respectively.