Those who read this blog on a regular basis know that the founder of this blog (David Daddio) and District 1 County Councilman Tom Dernoga had more than their fair share of disagreements on redevelopment issues in College Park over the years. Months ago I spoke with Tom about these disagreements, in particular over the Route One Sector Plan and he told me that the future of development on Route One north of the 193 and in the Hollywood Commercial District would probably depend as much (if not more) on who replaces him on the county council than on what actually went into the sector plan.
This isn’t to say that the sector plan and zoning issues don’t matter to the redevelopment process – they clearly do matter a great deal – but the influence that those on the County Council have over what type of development takes place in their districts cannot be understated. After all most council members practice “district courtesy” where they assume that the local council member knows best about the needs of his or her district and will vote on a local development issue based on how the council member who represents that area votes. The Prince George’s County Council may vote on projects but whoever gets elected to represent District One on the Prince George’s County Council for all intents and purposes will decide what development projects takes place and which ones do not, as well as which conditions potential development projects will have placed on them.
That being said Tom Dernoga is termed out and five candidates are running to replace him. The candidates are Valerie Cunningham, Sam Epps, Fred Smalls, Mary Lehman, and Crystal Thompson. The two favorites in my estimation are Mary Lehman (who is being endorsed by Tom Dernoga and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk) and Fred Smalls (who is being endorsed by Delegates Ben Barnes and Barbara Frush). I could be wrong, but Fred is already serving on the Laurel City Council and Mary is the chief of staff for Delegate Pena-Melnyk so both are already well known in certain communities and actually have a base of support.
Who are you supporting for County Council and who do you think will do a better job on redevelopment and revitalization issues in North College Park? Also where do you want our next county councilperson to stand on the whole Daddio/Dernoga debate? Should we be fast tracking any development project that meets code to promote much needed redevelopment or support a longer process that seeks the opinions of locals to try and make sure redevelopment does not unfairly hurt local neighborhoods? (There is also a race in District 3, but Eric Olson is a pretty safe bet to be re-elected and his record on promoting redevelopment within his district is pretty strong).