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Dernoga assumes Pr. George's Council Chairmanship

Jonathan Mummolo

Dernoga mug.jpgIt's official: Prince George's County Council Vice-Chairman Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Laurel) is now Council Chairman Thomas E. Dernoga.

The Prince George's County Council voted unanimously Tuesday morning to confirm Dernoga, who served as chairman in 2006 and is currently running for state's attorney. The promotion is sure to raise his profile as he heads into an election year. Council Member Andrea Harrison (D-Springdale) was named Vice-Chairwoman.

After literally taking the seat of outgoing Chairwoman Marilynn M. Bland (D-Clinton), Dernoga sought to emphasize the fiscal challenges sure to face the county in 2010, as further cuts in state funding loom large. Still, he laid out a list of broad priorities including maintaining and "enhancing" public safety staffing, education, housing and transportation.

"There will be a smooth transition into 2010 no matter how rocky the landscape may become as a result of potential budget shortfalls," Dernoga said in prepared remarks titled, "Advocate for the People."

Asked by a reporter whether his running for office would complicate his role as chairman, Dernoga said it is often unavoidable to select someone who was not running for something.

"I was running for office in 2006," he said. "Virtually anyone taking this position would be running for office. ... That's just part of the political process."

The council chairman has authority over the council's agenda, committee assignments and presides over council sessions. Dernoga wasted no time doing all three.

Tuesday was technically the first meeting of the council's 2010 legislative session, and Dernoga managed to introduce a resolution, suspended the rules, and pass it. The measure amends the makeup of the county's taxi-cab commission, created last year to study the industry amid protests by drivers over unfair working conditions.

According to the text of the new resolution, the panel of seven will now include the County Executive or his representative, and an additional taxi driver. Two members of the panel listed in the previous version--the director of the department of environmental resources and a police representative--were reduced to non-voting status.

Asked whether he would do anything different than the previous chairperson, Dernoga declined to make comparisons.

"I don't really worry about what other people do," he said. "I'm going to try to do what I did in 2006, and be myself...focus on, keep us focused on the business at hand and try to avoid distractions from getting in the way of the County Council's business,."

Dernoga announced the following committee chairmanships:

Samuel Dean (D-Mitchellville), Planning, Zoning and Economic Development; Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant), Public Safety and Fiscal Management; Bland, Rules and General Assembly; Eric Olson (D-College Park), Transportation, Housing and the Environment; Ingrid Turner (D-Bowie), Health Education and Human Services

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  December 1, 2009; 11:53 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Elections , Jonathan Mummolo , Prince George's County  
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