- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 3, 2002

Jack B. Johnson was sworn-in as Prince George's sixth county executive yesterday after he promised to unify the county's 850,000 residents to improve education, transportation, economics and to lower crime.
"Let us educate our young people," said Mr. Johnson, 52. "Let us drive crime down as we drive education up."
Most of the audience of 1,200 stood to applaud in the Showplace Arena at the county seat of Upper Marlboro.
Throughout his speech, the former county prosecutor referred to a Benjamin Franklin quote as he signed the Declaration of Independence:
"We must indeed all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."
Mr. Johnson emphasized the importance of improving the school system for its 130,000 students, including pay raises for teachers and administrators.
As his first appointment, he introduced Jacqueline Brown as the county's chief administrative officer. Mrs. Brown has been director of Howard County's Academic Reform, a program created to integrate and improve schools.
Mr. Johnson made no reference to the police department, which he has criticized and occasionally prosecuted during his eight years as the state's attorney in Prince George's County.
After yesterday's inauguration, Patrick Murphy, a former New York City police commissioner chosen as a consultant by Mr. Johnson, said he will begin a study of the department to recommend corrections and improvements.
"The murder rate is too high in the county," said Mr. Murphy, 82, who said he will focus first on patrols in communities because "the people are the first line of defense against crime."
There have been 126 murders in Prince George's so far this year, compared with 117 for all of 2001.
Nine members of the County Council also took the oath of office yesterday.
Mr. Johnson thanked his predecessor in the chief executive's job, Wayne Curry.
"I look forward to calling on you from time to time," Mr. Johnson said.
Mr. Johnson praised Mr. Curry for leaving the county with a slight surplus and on sound financial footing.
Mr. Curry said afterwards: "I'm pleased with what we did. I wish we could have done more. I think he'll do a great job."
Mr. Johnson said he plans to provide homes and health care for the poor, work with surrounding jurisdictions to improve roads and transportation, provide preserves for wildlife, encourage developers to include parks and bicycle trails, and attract high-quality businesses.
"The blight of abandoned homes and cars is unacceptable," Mr. Johnson said. "Together, we will clean up our community."
Family members gathered on the podium as new council members and Mr. Johnson separately took their oaths of office.
About 15 family members gathered behind Mr. Johnson, including his wife Leslie; daughter Nia, 24, a Philadelphia medical student; Jack Jr., 23, an insurance employee, and Zachary, 17, a senior at DeMatha High School.


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