A former Brentwood mayor has teamed up with four residents in a slate challenging four incumbents in the town’s May 6 elections.
Former Mayor Bettyjean Bailey-Schmiedigen, 71, is challenging Mayor Roger Rudder, who has been mayor since 2011. She is teaming with newcomers Jason Barnett, Jennifer Murphy, Rocio Treminio-Lopez and former Councilman E. James Cooksey, who are running for the town’s four at-large council seats.
Bailey-Schmiedigen was a councilwoman and vice mayor from 1995 to 1997 and from 2007 to 2009. She was mayor from 1997 to 1999 and again from 2005 to 2007. Bailey-Schmiedigen said she did not run for mayor in 2007 because she wanted a newcomer to take over town administration. Cooksey served as councilman from 2001 to 2005 and from 2009 to 2010, citing the poor health of his wife for resigning in the middle of his term.
Incumbents Gina Morlan and Ann Boatwright Wells are running for their second term and Vice Mayor Aneeka T. Harrison is registered as a write-in candidate in the council race.
The incumbent candidates said they are not running as a slate. Morlan was first elected in 2011, while Wells was appointed in December 2011 to fill a vacancy left when councilwoman Ada E. Brooks resigned. Harrison is seeking her third term, after being elected in 2009 and 2011.
Incumbent Nina Young said she did not file for re-election because of the “hostile environment” on the council and her frequent travels to Pittsburgh to help care for her father.
The top four vote-getters will win the election for council seats. Each of the seats, including that of the mayor, will be for two year terms.
Members of the slate said they are in favor of adding two new part-time officers to the town’s police department. Currently, the department has a police chief and one full-time officer. They also want to promote the town to developers and businesses, and fill the vacant town administrator position, which they say has led to town business being mishandled. The position has been vacant since June.
Rudder said that some of the town requirements have been neglected since the seat has been vacant. He said town officials were down to one applicant for the position, who he supported, but council members could not decide on the appointment. He said the town may have to restart the hiring process to get a new batch of applicants.
“What I would love to do is reconsider the person that [the council] turned down, because I think they would be a good town administrator,” he said.
Bailey-Schmiedigen said she would like the council to move as quickly as possible on hiring a new town administrator, including reviewing the list of applicants the current council solicited.
“The first thing my council should do is go get those applications, look over them and see if there is anyone we think we should interview,” she said.
Resident Sara Prigan, 45, said she supports the new slate of candidates over the current members, because she feels they have not supported arts-related development in the town.
Last April, town officials defeated a measure to write a letter in support to Prince George’s County issuing a Community Development Block Grant to the Gateway Community Development Corp., a nonprofit that looks to spur economic development in Mount Rainier, Brentwood and North Brentwood.
Harrison and Morlan abstained from voting while Wells voted against the measure, because she said that the CDC had not demonstrated how their partnership with the town would work. Rudder and Young supported the measure, which would have needed the approval of a majority of three council members to be adopted.
“They say they are for one thing and they do another,” Prigran said. “So I think that hurts the development of our town.”