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WSSC Nominee Advances

Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson's nominee to replace a controversial member of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission got one step closer to approval Thursday, despite concerns raised by some council members that he lacked relevant experience for the post.

The nominee, Antonio L. Jones, was approved by the Transportation, Housing and Environment committee Thursday morning, setting up a confirmation vote by the county council after the August recess.

Johnson had raised concerns recently that the committee might have been dragging its feet on the nominee, who the county executive put up to replace embattled commission member Juanita D. Miller.

Jones made opening remarks before the committee Thursday morning, emphasizing that he was a team player who possessed skills in "conflict resolution" and "consensus building." The remarks seemed aimed at drawing a contrast to Miller, who critics say
has been at the root of squabbles on the often dysfunctional bicounty board, which was stalemated for 15 months before it chose a new general manager in June.

If Jones is confirmed by the council, it could mean a new direction for the six-member board, which has seen Prince George's members frequently split with those from Montgomery County on important issues.

Miller, who said she plans to run for county council, will continue to serve until her replacement is confirmed.

Before voting to advance his nomination, council member Andrea Harrison (D-Springdale) said she had concerns about Jones's "inexperience with the particular utility and the background and all of the matters that go into that particular organization."

"I do believe, however," Harrison said, "that you are willing and will do all that you can to do the very best you can as a board member. ... It was troubling but its also refreshing, the fact that you're not an insider. You don't know all the politics, you don't know all the players, and what you're trying to do just as a resident is to provide the very best service that you can."

Committee chair Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Laurel) added: "I've heard comments about the experience issue. You certainly have a lot of experience, but maybe not on the topic that's in front of us."

Dernoga and council member Samuel H. Dean (D-Mitchellville) also voted for approval. Jones -- who said he's been meeting with several past commission members to get up to speed -- is a Largo-based management consultant.

After his meeting with the committee he declined to be interviewed, saying he preferred to wait until the nomination process is complete.

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  July 23, 2009; 2:36 PM ET
Categories:  Montgomery County , Prince George's County  
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