With fourteen candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination to fill the empty District 6 council manic seat it is easy to get confused about just who are the real contenders of the race are. In fact one group in particular seems to be going out of their way to project this race between their candidate Mark Polk and the odds-on frontrunner Derrick Leon Davis. That is false.
despite what groups like People for Change and the various campaigns wish to make you believe, the real race to replace Leslie Johnson as the District 6 Council member after she resigned this summer is between Arthur Turner and Derrick Leon Davis, as it should be.
Only one of these gentlemen will win the party nomination later this month on election day and then almost surely go on and win the seat in the general election but both of them actually have the skills and talents to be great members of the council.
Arthur Turner until last year was a member of the Democratic Central Committee and served as the first vice-chair. He has also been the longtime chairman of the United Communities Against Poverty (UCAP) and president of the Coalition of Central Prince George’s Community Organizations. For over two decades Arthur Turner has been a loud voice for the type of development that many Prince Georgian’s have demanded for a long time and in some respect he has delivered. The problem with Turner is that he will have to fight off the image that he is apart of the old tired politics that some in the county say it is time to do away with and the endorsement from Sam Dean may not be helpful in that respect. Sam Dean as a member of the council walked lockstep in line with others like Marilyn Bland and Camille Exum to back many of the bad planning policies then-Executive Johnson supported. This shouldn’t be seen corruption as Dean was never tied to any illegal activity but it surely wasn’t all above-board. Turner will also have to make the case to voters that if he is elected, he’ll be able to work with Rushern Baker, the popular new executive, and the rest of the council, many whom have supported his challenger. We also think that Turner needs to explain his opposition to the swift (sorta) action taken by the council to restrict the powers of Leslie Johnson before she plead guilty this summer. Despite what it was, what it looked like was someone who failed to understand the need to sideline this councilwoman who didn’t have the respect for her community to step aside before it became too much of a distraction. Instead of doing so last December and allowing the community to move forward, Johnson used her seat as a bargaining chip (even though she got none) and drew this process out for almost a year.
Derrick Leon Davis became the youngest and first African-American to chair the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund after he was appointed a trustee by Governor Martin O’Malley in 2007. The fund which provides insurance for drivers who can’t get regular insurance because of credit or driving history manages a budget of overt half a billion dollars. Before taking on this leadership role statewide Davis spent decades as an employee of the Prince George’s County Public Schools first expanding universal full day kindergarten throughout the county and then as a coordinator in the Title I office. Of all of the candidates in the race Davis has the widest breadth of knowledge about the most expensive part of the county budget, the school system. The problem with the county approach to education has been one that the council and executive always seem late to the table on this issue and two that no one really has the real working knowledge into how the system works. Davis on this issue will be ready to be a leader on the council in an area that is badly needed. With so much in his favor Davis will have to try very hard to distance himself from Rushern Baker where necessary and be the independent voice that his community needs. Baker has been pushing a very expensive Economic Development Corporation (EDC) fund that the council has asked the right questions and done the right about of work to ensure not only long-term stability but accountability, but Davis has campaign on the need to make this fund a reality which some can see as a promised vote for what Baker wants. Davis has close relationships with many of his soon to be peers like Will Campos, Mel, Franklin and Andrea Harrison but he should make sure that his community benefits as a result of it. The ties he has with people like Governor O’Malley and others like Justin Ross have to mean something to the people in Capitol Heights or else he risks just being one of the club. The youthfulness and energy Davis brings to this race is his best quality because it combined with being a lifelong resident of the county adds hope for the future.
With less than fourteen days left until the September Democratic Primary the race for the future of not only this council district but the county as whole requires an educated and informed judgement and that judgment is one of these two gentlemen to move onto the general election.