SEABROOK – When Angela Alsobrooks took the helm as the county’s first female executive, she harped of establishing Prince George’s County as “the crown jewel of Maryland.” After citing the county’s past, the former State’s Attorney asked residents to be a part of a revolution to change the way people see the area.
In her first year, Alsobrooks has begun to blaze that trail, completing high-priority items she preached on during her campaign, including education and development growth. As her first year comes to a close, Alsobrooks heads into 2020, looking to expand her initiatives and steer Prince George’s County into greener pastures.
“When I took office one year ago, I said that we would invest in our most precious resource, which is our residents. I am proud to say that we have done exactly that in year one, and with our Proud Priorities to guide our administration, we will expand on those critical investments over the next several years,” Alsobrooks said.
In her first year, Alsobrooks found success in working together with the Prince George’s County Council to pass a $4.2 billion budget, which included funding for education and technological investment. According to Council Chair Todd Turner, the council has approved all her nominees to work within the administration and expected to review Bryan M. Swann’s resume as the new member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education in the vacant District 4 seat after the winter recess period.
“For this past year, we have approved every single nominee the county executive has submitted to us as part of that process, and from what I have seen so far, and based on the preliminary information on him, he is very qualified,” Turner said.
While in Annapolis, she successfully lobbied for more than $1.5 billion in state aid for education, youth athletics, beautification and street improvements. Following her swearing into office, Alsobrooks and Prince George’s County Public Schools then-interim CEO Monica Goldson were seen taken several trips to the statehouse assure that the county state delegation would ensure that PGCPS’ P3 model of school construction would pass during the session.
“We are very collaborative, and I meet with the delegation and the council regularly to make sure that we are working in unison for our residents,” Alsobrooks said. “This is not a singular government; each branch cannot get this done without working with the other branch.”
Lastly, in times of unity, Alsobrooks stood together with State Del. Darryl Barnes and Del. Michael A. Jackson (both D-Prince George’s) after reports that Del. Mary Ann Lisanti (D-Harford County) reportedly called parts of the county “n***** district.” Alsobrooks called for the resignation of Lisanti, saying her comments were “hurtful, ignorant.”
The county expanded its growth into development, an extensive campaign initiative that Alsobrooks touted as a way for the county to grow its commercial tax base and lessen the load off of residential taxpayers. The plan grew to focus on downtown areas, starting with Largo and the construction of the new University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center.
Areas like College Park, Hyattsville, New Carrollton and Suitland were called flagbearers on what the county plans to do with investment by bringing in businesses to invest in the county.
The county added a new office headquarters for Kaiser Permanente and acquired a new Metro headquarters to be placed in New Carrollton. Federal officials have begun studying land in Beltsville to move the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing to the county. Lastly, despite Shoppers Food & Pharmacy announcing the closure of multiple county grocery stores, grants supplied by the county’s government have helped mall and town center owners renovate to attach more businesses to join the revolution.
“It does mean we have to put skin in the game,” Alsobrooks said on adding grants for mall owners. “It means that the government, where it is appropriate, need to offer financial incentives for people to come and add new grocers.”
However, not all the investments went the county’s way as an attempt to court Amazon to create a distribution center in Westphalia collapsed after negative feedback from residents. Without naming the internet retail giant by name, Alsobrooks attempted to assure residents that purchased homes near the proposed site that the county will try to work harder to attract businesses that meet their needs.
“To those who purchased homes at Westphalia and were promised certain things, I want you to know that my administration will work with the developer to help bring the retail, dining and other amenities you were promised,” Alsobrooks said. “Prince George’s County is open for business, and we will continue working to attract quality businesses to the county that add value to our economy and provide amenities to our citizens.”
Personally, the job of being county executive is a still a thrill for Alsobrooks despite its nonstop nature. Deputy Chief of Staff John Erzen said that Alsobrooks often relies on the help of her family to help her manage running the county as well as being a mother to her daughter Alex.
“Her mom is able to be with Alex every day after school and often stays at Ms. Alsobrooks’ home until late into the evening, until Ms. Alsobrooks returns home from her daily responsibilities as (county executive) and then returns the next day to do it again,” Erzen said. “She is very grateful to have this kind of family support.”
Heading into year two of her term, Alsobrooks will be preparing her FY2021 proposed budget, which should be released by mid-March, with education expected to be a high priority once again.
In her community conversation town hall in October, Alsobrooks said she wants residential feedback and wants to hear all the positive and negative feedback to keep her administration accountable moving forward.
“We continue to come out to make sure the community holds us accountable,” Alsobrooks said. “We want to make sure that we hear from the community and they are aware of what’s happening in their government.”