This story was updated 2:27 p.m., Feb. 14, 2013.
Prince George’s County officials are looking for a new commissioner for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission after County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) accepted the resignation of a commissioner over residency concerns.
Baker asked for the resignation of Commissioner Melanie Hartwig-Davis over concerns that she was splitting her time between her stated Cheverly home and a home in Edgewater in Anne Arundel County, said Scott Peterson, a Baker spokesman.
“We will be looking to appoint a replacement over the next several months,” Peterson said.
Hartwig-Davis said her family’s desire to purchase a water-front home in Edgewater was no surprise to Baker as she had mentioned it to him last summer. Hartwig-Davis and Baker have known each other for years as both called Cheverly home and both attend Cheverly United Methodist Church, Hartwig-Davis said in an interview.
Hartwig-Davis was appointed in May 2011 by Baker to a four-year term, she said. In December 2012, Hartwig-Davis said she and her husband, Lance Davis, purchased a home in Edgewater.
That residency appeared to create a conflict with the job requirements for a commissioner, Peterson said. Under the Annotated Code of Maryland, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County governments are responsible for each appointing three members to the commission. Each one must be both a resident of his or her respective county and a registered voter in the respective jurisdiction.
“I’ve purchase a home on the water in Edgewater. Come summer, when my kids are out of school, we’re going to be out [there],” she said.
Last year, Baker dealt with criticism from the Prince George’s County Council after it became known that two appointees to county commissions were not county residents. In response, the council passed a measure on Oct. 23, 2012 that requires county residency for appointees.
Hartwig-Davis will continue to serve on the commission until a replacement can be found, Peterson said. As a commissioner she receives an annual salary of $13,000 and is responsible for overseeing the $1.4 billion-utility company that provides service for about 1.8 million people in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, said Jim Neustadt, a WSSC spokesman.
Prince George’s County is in the process of finding a replacement commissioner, Peterson said.
“We’ll work as quickly as we can but making sure we don’t rush the process,” Peterson said.
Any candidate for the commission must be nominated by Baker and approved by the County Council.
“Mr. Baker will be making sure that his next appointee as his first two will represent the best interest of the county consumers,” Peterson said.
Hartwig-Davis, an architect and owner of Cheverly-based HD Squared Architects, said she is in talks with the county executive’s office about other capacities she might be able to work. Leaving the commissioner’s job won’t mean the end for her pushing for issues such as walkable communities and energy efficiency, she said.
“I don’t think it’s the end for me,” she said.