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From the Editor: All politics is local

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Posted on: June 10, 2014

Susie Currie

BY SUSIE CURRIE — In most places, election-day anticipation begins closer to the end of summer than the beginning. And yet, in Prince George’s County — where 78 percent of registered voters are Democrats — the political-ad deluge is already in full force.

That’s because the primary, on June 24, will likely decide the winner of the general election in November.  In keeping with the old adage that all politics is local, we present the Hyattsville Life & Times Primary Voter’s Guide. We’ve selected the three contested Democratic races that are likely to affect Hyattsville residents most: Prince George’s County Council (District 2) and Maryland State Legislature (Districts 23 and 47A). Then we asked each candidate what they wanted you to know about them as you head to the polls.

Rather than endorse candidates, we prefer to let them speak for themselves. Please take the time to see what they had to say; in our opinion, they tell you everything you need to know as a voter.

Now, a bit about why we chose these races. The nine-member County Council wields enormous control over planning, zoning and development. Widespread changes in what buildings can go where are in the pipeline now, and more are coming.

Do you want the wooded area near the Mall at Prince George’s developed as high-rise condos and offices? Do you care if a drive-through McDonald’s goes next to the new Hyattsville elementary school? Even the long-debated fate of the iconic saucer in front of the Hyattsville library could be in the hands of the next county council.

For the last 10 years, Hyattsville has been represented by Will Campos (D-2). County councilmembers are limited to two terms, although they are considering a ballot initiative that would extend it to three. That decision, expected by the end of July, would also apply to County Executive Rushern Baker, who is now running unopposed for a second term.

Campos won a special election in 2004 and was re-elected to two full terms; those who have been paying attention know just how much he has done for us in his decade of public service. Now running unopposed for the state legislature, he will represent the citizens of the newly created District 47B, carved out during the last statewide redistricting to be majority Hispanic.

(Incidentally, after some impressive number-crunching, Christopher Ingraham concluded in the May 16 Washington Post that Maryland is tied with North Carolina for the most gerrymandered state in the nation. But we digress.)

Meanwhile, in 47A, competition is a little stiffer. Five people, including first-time Hyattsville City Councilman Joseph Solomon (Ward 5) are running for two seats. Only one, Michael Summers, is an incumbent.

Another incumbent, Doyle Niemann (D-47), is finishing his sixth term as state delegate. He will face Deni Taveras, chief of staff for state Sen. Victor Ramirez (D-47) in the County Council race.

In District 23, state Sen. Paul Pinsky (D) is running unopposed. His three colleagues in the House of Delegates are all running for re-election, and two of them, Anne Healey and Alonzo Washington, live in Hyattsville. That race could turn into a game of musical chairs with the addition of a fourth candidate whose name may ring a bell: Rushern Baker IV.

If you’re not sure of your district, visit www.elections.maryland.gov. If you do know, and can’t wait for the primary, eight Prince George’s County polling places will be open for early voting from June 12 to 19. Closest to Hyattsville is the College Park Community Center at 5051 Pierce Avenue.

In any case, we invite you to meet the candidates for yourself.

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