Harrison Mum on Tax Issue in Pr.Geo.'s Campaign
Prince George's voters will go to the polls Tuesday in County Council District 5, when Spring resident Andrea Harrison, who emerged victorious in a closely fought special Democratic primary for the seat, faces Republican Steven W. Johnson in a special general election.
But here's one thing voters won't know before going to the polls: Where Harrison stands on a major tax issue that will likely come up for council vote not long after the election's winner takes office.
"At this point, I'm really not prepared to offer an opinion on that," she said in a recent interview.
County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) has asked the council to improve increases in the county's income tax rate and the tax on the recordation of home sales. He says the tax increases are necessary to close a budget gap emerging with the economic downturn.
As one might imagine, given his service on the county's Republican Central Committee, Johnson, 50, opposes the increases. He said the county needs to examine the budget for waste before raising taxes.
"We're not spending the money we've got effectively," said Johnson, a consultant from Cheverly. "We can't keep using the citizens like an ATM machine."
Harrison, on the other hand, noted no one likes taxes raised but also said the council has to look at all budget options. As for the specific tax proposals, she said that since she's not yet had an opportunity to review the budget thoroughly, she feels uncomfortable offering a position on the matter.
"I have not been on the inside," she said. "Because I have not had an opportunity to really get a thorough look at it, I'm really hesitant to give an opinion."
She's hardly alone. Sitting county council members have so far declined to say where they stand on the issue either, even as it wends its way through the legislative process. Rather than take a position one way or the other, a committee of the council voted Monday to send the proposals forward for a public hearing and examination by the full council with no recommendation on what action the nine-member body should take.
Harrison and Johnson meanwhile both said they are focusing on making sure voters in the overwhelmingly Democratic district even know the election is taking place Tuesday. Turnout was low for the April 1 primary, even though the district was fairly well plastered with signs for various candidates. Turnout for the general election will likely be even slower.
Harrison said her experience as a staffer in the district's council office gives her an edge of Johnson. He said the district needs fresh eyes and charged Harrison is part of a "Democratic machine" that controls count politics.
The election will determine who will take over from David C. Harrington, who was chosen to fill in the state senate seat left vacant with the January death of Sen. Gwendolyn T. Britt.
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