- The Washington Times - Monday, September 19, 2011

Prince George’s County voters will go to the polls Tuesday to choose the likely replacement for former County Council member Leslie E. Johnson.

The county will hold special Democratic and Republican primaries for the District 6 council seat that Johnson, a Democrat, vacated July 31 after her guilty plea a month earlier to federal charges of witness- and evidence-tampering.

Fourteen Democrats and an unopposed Republican are on the ballots to determine each party’s nominee for the nine-member council. District 6 covers a section of central Prince George’s that includes Capitol Heights, Largo, Mitchellville and south Bowie.

The two primary winners will face off in an Oct. 18 special general election, which the Democratic nominee almost certainly will win. According to the county Board of Elections, 85 percent of registered voters in the district are Democrats.

“It’s time to focus on the future, and this is the future,” Democratic candidate Derrick Leon Davis said Monday. “It requires all of us working together to make things happen.”

The Democratic front-runners appear to be Mr. Davis and Arthur Turner, who placed second and third respectively to Johnson in last year’s primary. Johnson received 40.6 percent of the votes, while Mr. Davis garnered 31.9 percent and Mr. Turner received 12.1 percent.

Mr. Davis, a former county schools employee and current board of trustees chairman for the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund, has received a crucial endorsement from County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and other Democrats including county State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.

Mr. Turner, a county liquor inspector, has been endorsed by other Prince George’s Democrats such as County Council Chairwoman Ingrid M. Turner, who is not related to Mr. Turner, and Johnson’s predecessor, Samuel H. Dean.

Day Gardner, who serves as president of the National Black Pro-Life Union, will run unopposed in the Republican primary.

The winner of the general election will represent a district that includes poor and affluent areas as well as large swaths of formerly rural land and neighborhoods that are quickly giving way to housing and business development.

The district has not had full representation since Johnson took office in December because she was banned from serving on committees or leading District 6 development discussion after her November arrest.

“It’s time for the district to have full representation from every angle,” said council member William A. Campos, a Democrat. “We’ve done our best to make sure District 6 isn’t left out … but there are certain things we’re not going to be able to know because we don’t live in the district.”

Prince George’s officials hope the election will help the county, long plagued by political corruption, move beyond one of its most embarrassing scandals.

Johnson was arrested in November after flushing a $100,000 check down a toilet and stuffing nearly $80,000 into her underwear to hide it from federal investigators on the trail of her husband, Jack B. Johnson, who was county executive at the time.

Jack Johnson was also arrested that day and left office in December because of term limits. He pleaded guilty in May to federal extortion and witness- and evidence-tampering charges and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 6.

Leslie Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 13.

“We’re looking to get the council back to nine members, together, put all the controversy of the last year behind us and move the government forward,” Mr. Campos said.

• David Hill can be reached at dhill@washingtontimes.com.

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