When the Prince George’s County Council meets next week for the first time in the new year they might be joined by a few visitors. Unless you have been under a rock lately District 6 Councilwoman Leslie Johnson who was arrested last year before her swearing-in was blocked by her colleagues from service on any of the council’s committees and stripped of her oversight role over development in her district.
Following those actions Johnson supporters launched an organizing drive to paint these steps as overreactions by newly installed chairwoman Ingrid Turner of District 3 who literally owes her leadership post directly to her AKA sorority sister Leslie Johnson. In the days leading up to the installation of the council rumors circulated that absent Johnson’s vote neither Turner nor her opponent Councilwoman Andrea Harrison had the five votes needed to claim the chair. Once Johnson broke the speculation up about if she would actually take her seat it became clear she would have the votes to take the gavel.
The group of supporters being led by Mission of Love leader Douglas Edwards argue that as a result of Johnson’s exclusion her residents are being taxed without actual representation, an argument from the revolutionary war that is often used to rally support behind DC Statehood laws. After meeting with Turner and holding discussions with other county officials behind closed doors the fight now appears to be moving into the public.
In an email sent out today by one supporter named Eileen Thomson Leslie and Jack are “doing well.” Furthermore according to the email message plans still are underway for a “get-together for her campaign volunteers in the near future, and [she] has an appreciation gift for each of you.” The date has not yet been set. Following all of the thank you’s and such the email gets down to the real reason why it was sent.
“You have most likely heard or read in the newspaper that, as soon as the Council was sworn into office, they met and voted unanimously to bar Leslie from sitting on any of the council’s committees, and from voting on committee matters. She will be allowed to vote on bills that come before the full council, but all of the work and decision-making takes place in committees. That’s why it’s crucial for the citizens of District 6 that Leslie is able to participate and vote in the committees.
Leslie needs your help! The first Legislative session will be held next Tuesday, January 18 at 10:00am in the council chambers on the 1st floor of the County Administration Building. We need all of you, and anyone else that you can bring, to attend the session to show support for Leslie. You should attend whether or not you live in District 6.”
Any hope that the council may have had to start their year with a clear focus on the issues they all ran on in the election might have to wait awhile. Another community activist who writes the blog @PGD9Politico is planning to visit the council and question their usage of public funds for an out-of-town retreat on the eastern shore last week. She is encouraging other outraged citizens to do the same.
Faced with a huge budget shortfall, rising crime rates, and a county’s whose image is badly in need of repair, the members of the council will have to move quickly to restore public trust and meet these challenges head on. Will they do it? Only time will tell.