New Leaders for Montgomery, Prince George's
The Prince George's County Council elected David Harrington (D-Cheverly) chairman yesterday, and the Montgomery County Council selected Michael Knapp (D-Upcounty) to serve as its president.
Harrington, 53, immediately moved to restructure Prince George's council committees to focus on economic development and health-care issues. He also said he would spend his year-long term forging new partnerships between government and nonprofit groups in the county, including possibly setting up an incubator to help local charities grow.
"I think there's a nonprofit voice out there that's just not prominent in our social dialogue," he said. "We have to begin to engage them, and we have to show the region that we do have a credible nonprofit infrastructure that's worthy of investing in."
In Montgomery, Knapp, 41, who was first elected to the council in 2002, told a standing-room-only crowd that the county is "struggling with our growing pains" and must ensure that the government is living up to residents' "high expectations."
"Given our current success, we sometimes forget to ask ourselves what we need to do to keep improving," Knapp said. "That's tough medicine for a county that considers itself great and ahead of the curve."
Knapp succeeds Marilyn Praisner (D-Eastern County), whose one-year term ended as she was recovering from a car accident. Praisner returned home yesterday after two weeks in the hospital. Council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville), who was first elected in 1998, was tapped as vice president.
Harrington, who was the mayor of Bladensburg before he was elected to the County Council in 2002, replaces Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant) as the leader of the nine-member Prince George's council. The council elected Marilynn Bland (D-Clinton) as its vice chairman.
Harrington said the council will meet more frequently as the Board of Health and might hold hearings to discuss access to health care. He applauded the General Assembly for agreeing to provide $50 million in funding for the county's financially troubled hospital system if political leaders agree on a solution for its long-term health. He said he was optimistic negotiations between state and local leaders will result in a plan.
with Ann E. Marimow
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