August 26, 2010
I was honored to be asked to be the moderator for the Maryland Black Mayors, Inc. (MBM), county executive forum for Prince George’s County, MD (see picture above). Prince George’s County is the wealthiest predominately Black county in the United States. It is considered a suburb of Washington, DC.
They represent over 700,000 citizens and manages approximately $ 2.2 billions annually. They are a 501 (c) 3 organization with the goal of promoting efficient and responsive government.
I was truly flattered that Mayor Gail Parker Carter (Glenarden, MD) and Mayor Xzavier Montgomery-Wright (Town of Brentwood, MD) thought enough of me to ask me to moderate the candidate’s forum last week. Mayors Carter and Montgomery-Wright are president and vice president, respectively of the MBM.
Four of the five candidates for county executive participated in the forum. I live Virginia, so I was truly an unbiased, objective moderator (being that I could not vote for any candidate). I have participated in many debates over the years; and this was by far the best, most substantive one yet. Each candidate was very responsive to all my questions—there was no circumlocution or evasive answers. The candidates all presented themselves very well. There were no negative attacks on each other and the whole tone of the debate was respectful and positive. I am sure this had to do more with how the candidates viewed the MBM—with a great deal of respect!
The MBM doesn’t endorse candidates, but the candidate’s demeanor said everything about how they viewed the organization. After all, most of the mayors represent parts of the county that will actually determine the next county executive.
The county will be well served by whoever wins the Democratic nomination on September 14 (since the county is overwhelmingly Democratic, the winner of the primary is tantamount to winning the office).
In my view, the MBM has yet to fully realize the power they have to leverage their offices into tangible policies that will benefit their collective constituencies. But, with leaders like Carter and Montgomery-Wright, I am convinced that is about to change.
Individually, their cities and towns might be considered small, but when you join together over 17 mayors, with over 700,000 people, and combined budgets of over $ 2.2 billion—that is real power.
If they all work together (and with the current leadership I am confident they will), they can leverage that $ 2.2 billion into close to $ 4 billion in services for their communities. This will lead to an increased tax base, better schools, and more job creation.
Those who have followed my columns over the years know I have been very critical of many political organizations in the past. But, in meeting and getting to know some of the MBM’s members, I see nothing but great things from them in the future.
Potential in and of itself means nothing. The MBM must have a strategic plan of action and then put the fear of God into any elected official that is not responsive to their agenda. This calls for a high level of sophistication that is agenda driven, not personality driven.
If they can work together as a group, they can solidify their own reelections, while at the same time, delivering to their communities the vital things that are necessary and needed.
If the mayors deliver for the people; the people will deliver for them. That’s how you give power to the people.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).