December 4, 2018
What an exciting time for Prince George's County! On Monday, I had the signal honor of speaking at the 2018 Prince George's County Inauguration Ceremony along with County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. You can watch that entire ceremony
. This morning, the new 11-member County Council convened to elect a new Chair and Vice Chair for the 2019 legislative year. I was proud to hand over my gavel to Chair Todd Turner and Vice Chair Rodney Streeter. Watch that ceremony
It has been an absolute honor to serve as Chair this past year. This week marks my fourth year as a County Council Member and I've had the privilege of serving in Council leadership for three of those four years.
Taking the oath of office for the second time on Monday was incredible. I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to work for the residents of Prince George's County. Working together with the new 11-member County Council and County Executive Angela Alsobrooks for an even better, stronger Prince George's County will mean growing communities that we are anchored to, strive to care for, and feel proud of; celebrating a County where children and their families can live fulfilled lives and pursue their dreams; and creating a place that our young people, seniors and veterans can continue to call home. Below are some excerpts of my Inauguration remarks.
The tapestry that is Prince George's County is full of astonishing beauty, with riches that stretch from Accokeek to Laurel, and everywhere in between. Our rural areas are beautiful treasures. Our Metro stations are just beginning to emerge with activity. And there is abundance and opportunity waiting to be discovered and cultivated across this County from all of our outstanding community assets, including Bowie State University, Prince George's Community College, the University of Maryland College Park and Joint Base Andrews.
Our tapestry is also woven with a diversity that is hard to find in any other County in this region. And, the core of our strength-the thread that weaves us together is made up of the people of this vibrant County. Our creativity, passion, and fearlessness sets us apart.
We are living in critical times in our nation - fragmented by acts of hate and violence, and a lack of civility, and too often divided by racism, discrimination, and intolerance. Prince Georgians know there is no hope in the embrace of deep divisions.
But the same diversity we treasure as our strength in Prince George's County, some inexplicably see as a threat. In our community, we know it is our collective experiences and perspectives shared through many lenses that allow us to see clearly and progress.
Our immigrant community-from India, the Philippines, and Syria. From Cameroon, Nigeria, and Liberia. From the Dominican Republic and Jamaica to El Salvador and Mexico, and from all nations in between-- are an integral part of the fabric of America and of Prince George's County. No matter where you come from, no matter your native language, your race or ethnicity, where you were born or when you arrived here, this is your County, and we welcome your immeasurable contributions to our collective community story.
Leading the Council in 2018, a year of immense transition, was a daunting task. The Council had to stretch itself and our staff in Legislative Year 2018. When I accepted the gavel, I pledged that this Council would remain committed to our constituents and continue the great work we started together.
With a great sense of gratitude for my colleagues and the Legislative Branch staff, and immense pride in our County, I am pleased to share the good news that we moved big Council initiatives forward in Legislative Year 2018, continuing our commitment to strengthen our communities. We started strong. We finished stronger!
Together We Strengthened Our Non-Profits: We provided record investment of County tax dollars to support public-private partnerships with nonprofit, civic, and community organizations; We s
trengthened the County's social safety net of services; We strengthened accountability, enhanced transparency, and protected the integrity of public grant programs.
Together We Strengthened Healthcare Delivery: We convened four working sessions as the Board of Health to address a broad array of issues; We laid
the foundation for transformative improvement in overall health and well-being for all Prince Georgians; We began construction of University of Maryland Capital Region Health and the transformation of Laurel Regional Hospital to a freestanding medical facility; We authorized a new study to assess the current state of, and the need and gaps in, health and human services in Prince George's County.
Together We Strengthened Housing Policy: We initiated and published a comprehensive housing strategy that considers all income levels, populations and demographics.
Together We Strengthened Development: We tackled the mammoth task of rewriting the County's 50 year old Zoning Ordinance, moving the County toward a
more concise, consistent, and user-friendly document to better-enable residents to play a larger role in shaping the future of development in Prince George's County.
Together We Strengthened Our Finances: We passed a record $4 billion Fiscal Year 2019 County Budget reflecting our shared values and priorities and our commitment to sound and responsible fiscal management.
Together We Strengthened Our Schools: We made a record investment in education (64% of the adopted FY 2019 County Budget, over $2 billion) to fully fund request of the BOE and exceed the state-mandated Maintenance of Effort; We
approved legislation establishing the Public Private Partnership, Alternative Financing School Infrastructure Work Group, to explore the P3 concept for school construction and replacement projects in Prince George's County.
Together We Strengthened Our Partnerships: We worked in partnership with our State Delegation to further the County's Legislative Agenda; We collaborated with our regional partners to secure the future of Metrorail and Metrobus through dedicated funding.
Together We Strengthened Economic Development: We promoted economic development with a commitment to increasing procurement opportunities for County-Based Businesses, especially our small and minority County-Based businesses by establishing a Procurement Advisory Group; We moved forward on key economic development projects.
Together We Strengthened Our Legislative Body: We looked inward to strengthen our own governance and efficiency, and better address the evolving needs of County residents; We restructured our Council committees; We implemented appropriate changes to our rules that will allow for less difficult moments in our legislative process.
Together We Strengthened Transparency and Engagement:
We dramatically increased public engagement; We provided more opportunities for public input during Council work sessions and Committee of the Whole meetings; We launched our new e-news
, a weekly wrap-up of Council activities (subscribe
This legislative year, while short on time, was not short on accomplishment. We started strong. We finished stronger. It was my great privilege to serve as your Chair.
As we move forward, we must continue to work to ensure we advance equity and reduce disparity, and that all Prince Georgians move forward with the County's progress. Mary Church Terrell, an African-American activist championed: We must "Lift as we Climb."
Successfully shaping our County story and meeting our challenges from this day forward involves all of us. Improving our quality of life and continuing to embrace and expand the progress in Prince George's County will take all of us pushing forward together.
Only together can the gifts of Prince George's County be shared and unwrapped by all.
Only together can we strengthen our County, our communities, our families and realize our fullest potential.
Only together as one County, can our tapestry, our story, and our County shine bright.
There is no challenge before us that we cannot solve when we act as a community and make use of all our talents. There cannot be any hidden figures if we are to capture the abundance and opportunity that is Prince George's.
I look forward to working with you for the next four years.
Together Strengthening our Community,
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