Prince George’s County Councilman Derrick Davis (D-Dist. 6) brought a message of development and progress for his district and the county to a packed community meeting in Largo however multiple residents say education is the No. 1 issue they’ll judge the first term councilman on.
Davis, who was sworn into office on Nov. 8, 2011, gave his first state of the district address on Saturday at the Radisson Hotel in Largo before a crowd estimated at around 100 people. The bulk of attendees were representatives of civic associations or home owner association or active residents from Davis’ district that includes areas such as Forestville, South Bowie, District Heights and Largo.
“The future of district 6 is bright, for Prince George’s County its brighter,” he said in an interview.
Davis who was joined by a variety of county officials including County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) highlighted achievements in 2012 such as fall in crime that includes a 35-percent drop in homicides in 2012 compared to 2011.
Education was the issue multiple attendees had questions on with residents asking what the county government would do to advance the county’s school system which battles Baltimore City over being worst in the state.
Education was the No. 1 priority for both Baker and Davis, both men said. This year, Davis said he was pushing for the creation of a taskforce to look at creating parent academies that would engage parents in area schools.
“You have to start with parents being involved in their children’s school,” Davis said in an interview.
Faye Howell, president of the Tri-Area Civic Association which operates in such areas as Highland Park questioned how well the county was working with the county Board of Education given no representatives from the board were at the meeting.
“That bothers me,” she said. “If education is our top priority, why isn’t anyone from the board of education here?”
Baker acknowledged that progress has not been as fast as he or other county leaders would like, he said.
“I think all of us would agree [improvement] hasn’t come fast enough,” he said. “The one area we have to improve with a sense of urgency is our education system.”
The county government would continue to push for higher education standards, despite the fact the county will also have to struggle with a looming budget deficit of more than $150 million, Davis said.
“We may not be able to go from 0 to 100 but we can’t allow that to stop us from moving from 0 to 0.1,” Davis said.
Funding for education though shouldn’t be at risk of cuts, said Marvin Plater, a UPS driver from Temple Hills who attended Davis’ breakfast address.
“Never, ever cut education,” he said.
Looking ahead Davis said his priorities would include continuing to push for development in his district including focusing development around Largo which perhaps includes bringing a new proposed regional medical center to the Largo area, Davis said.
“Somewhere around here is very likely where the hospital center will be,” Davis said.
The hospital could represent a lot more than simply better health care for the surrounding area, Baker said.
“That’s not just a hospital that’s office building that’s retail that’s all these things we can connect together,” Baker said.
Rubye Armorer, president of the Knolls Cabin Branch Association in upper Marlboro, said she was encouraged by the prospect of new business opportunities, she said.
“I want to see more businesses here,” she said. “I want to see [the county government] doing more business with our small businesses rather than outside the county.”