‘Where Is Our Money?’
Alsobrooks’ Speech Calls For Focus, Pride and Progress
By Raoul Dennis // Photography By Raoul Dennis and Franklin Solomon
A speaker is at her best when an audience of 600-plus are so intently hanging on each word that one can hear a sleeping ant roll over on the carpet.
Such was the atmosphere as County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks delivered her first State Of The County Address at The Hotel at the University of Maryland June 11.
The event was hosted by The Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation and The Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable.
As she recounted her rationale for not immediately responding to a racial slur by a Maryland representative, the county executive explained that it was important to keep the focus on getting adequate and overdue funding for the students of Prince George’s County Public Schools.
She used the moment of national media attention to draw the spotlight to a long established fact: schools in minority communities across the country receive less funding than others with similar structures.
So, when media sought Alsobrooks’ reply to the slur, she shared with the audience that she instead responded with a different focus: “Where is our money?”
The audience responded resoundingly.
The anecdote is a metaphor for Alsobrooks’ overall message of unity and progress within the county. She acknowledged the solid fiscal condition her administration inherited and recognized a number of businesses that remained based in Prince George’s during the uncertain years. She maintained that she would keep her promise to aid the elderly communities and put youth development at the forefront of her priorities.
“When you hear our county executive speak you have to feel her enthusiasm,” said Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable President and CEO Jim Estepp, Sr. “She certainly epitomizes Prince George’s County and all the best that represents everyone in this county. Her aspirations are our aspirations and that is for more quality economic growth, better education system, public safety in our communities – which we have been accomplishing and increasing our quality of life. This executive is on that mission.”
County Council Chair Todd Turner knew much of the progress of the Alsobrooks Administration as a result of working with the county executive during the general assembly and with the budget but valued her speech and message.
“It was an outstanding opportunity for Angela to tell us what she has been doing over the last six months. She hit it out of the ballpark with the speech and people are very excited about what’s occurring in Prince George’s County right now.”
“As someone who grew up here, she has a lot of pride about what the county is and what it can be, she was able to express that in her campaign and obviously in her first six months as County Executive,” he said.
The council chair noted that the council will be focusing on several issues over the coming weeks and months including health and human services, the Zoning Rewrite and the comprehensive housing strategy.
“She is off to one of the best starts in county history,” said At Large County Council Member Mel Franklin of Alsobrooks. “The success in Annapolis, a very successful budget… we have an amazing and unlimited upside. I’m looking forward to the partnership and the great things to come.”
Franklin commented on the county executive’s remarks regarding the county’s continued economic strength in Maryland.
“We’re the best place to invest in within the best region in America,” he said. “With that comes the opportunity to create and grow signature industries in the region that others can’t have because they have already built out or are overwhelmed with traffic and we still have a lot of opportunity.”
“One of the most critical parts of Prince George’s County being an economic engine is the near limitless of growing small, minority and women owned businesses here in the county. We already have thousands of minority businesses in the County – more here than in most places in the world. We can grow those firms which creates generational wealth in communities that have not typically had it – particularly black and brown communities – but also in ways that grows our tax base so that we can have more revenue to fund the things that we all care about: schools, transportation, public safety, services for seniors and youth. All of that is critical for building a true, thriving economy.”
Prince George’s Economic Development Corporation President David Iannucci was energized by the address.
“Everyone I talked to on the way out was praising the operation and the county executive’s remarks were very well received in terms of the optimism. The message that Prince George’s County is not on the brink is one of the things that I believe in and I think it’s important for this crowd to hear that,” Iannucci said.
He embraced Alsobrooks’ message that the county has arrived but added that the work continues.
“In the economic development business you can’t stand still. You can’t rest on your laurels. You always have to work harder because our neighbors are going to try to compete constantly. But Prince George’s County has arrived: we were at International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) last week and one of the common phrases that we kept hearing is that ‘if you’re going to do a deal in Maryland, you better be looking at Prince George’s County.’”