Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) plans to outline her priorities for her next few years in office during a public meeting Wednesday evening in Greenbelt.
Billed a “community conversation” – the first of two Alsobrooks has scheduled over the next two weeks – the event will be an opportunity for the new county executive and her senior team to discuss their upcoming plans and hear what residents expect from their local government.
Just as important, in the view of Alsobrooks’ top aides, who briefed reporters on her plans earlier in the week, Alsobrooks will lay out ways for constituents to measure whether the county is meeting its goals.
“The county executive made it clear that her government was going to be as open and transparent as we can be,” said David A. Sloan, director of the county government’s Division of Policy, Planning and Public Affairs.
Broadly speaking, Alsobrooks’ priorities are the bread-and-butter issues that most local leaders emphasize: education, youth development, quality of life, economic development, healthy communities, and public safety.
But within each of those categories, Alsobrooks and her team now aim to flesh out some of the details.
For example, on the education front, Alsobrooks is going to promote universal pre-K, an expansion of school-based health clinics, and a more aggressive school construction program. Already the school system is embarking on a public-private partnership to accelerate school building and renovation in the county – and officials are closely watching the progress of the Kirwan Commission, whose recommendations will yield more state resources but also require a greater infusion of county funding to improve public education.
Economic development will also occupy plenty of the county government’s attention. The county is focused on bolstering its downtown areas, like Largo, Suitland, New Carrollton and Oxon Hill, but it is also looking to augment the success of communities in its so-called Arts Corridor, from Hyattsville to Brentwood, and is beginning to emphasize its emerging “international corridor,” taking in communities like Langley Park and Adelphi.
Alsobrooks has already announced her intention to improve several round-down shopping centers around the county, and as a part of that effort, hopes to tackle the pervasive problem of food deserts in several parts of the county.
Joy Russell, Alsobrooks’ chief of staff, said improving food options in the county would be the top priority of Prince George’s officials when they attend an annual commercial real estate conference in Las Vegas next year.
As part of Alsobrooks’ policy priorities package, the county government is beefing up its use of the CountyStat program, which provides measurable ways for officials and residents to evaluate how programs are working.
Sloan said the computerized system provides 2,200 data sets for county officials to digest, providing information on everything from whether litter is being picked up at a greater rate to whether the county is adequately expanding its tax base. Officials plan to closely examine the data monthly, and adjust goals and fix things that aren’t working.
John Erzen, the county executive’s deputy chief of staff, said county leaders plan to continually update and refine their goals, based in part on the data.
“We’re going to be able to tell you as we go along how things are going and we should be able to adjust and adapt as we go along as well,” he said.
Alsobrooks’ community conversation is set to take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt. A similar event has been scheduled for Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. at Oxon Hill High School.
Asked whether the goals Alsobrooks plans to unveil will carry her through the next three years of her term, Sloan quickly replied, “Or seven years” – a reference to the fact that Prince George’s executives are eligible to serve two four-year terms.