Before a packed house in Hyattsville last night, the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee elected Alonzo Washington to serve the remainder of the term of former state Del. Justin Ross (D-District 22).
"I'm excited," said Washington in an interview after the vote. "I'm excited to get out into the community and meet many people…my background is community service, and I want to get out there and figure out what I can do for this community."
Washington, the 29-year-old aide to Prince George's County Council member Will Campos (D-District 2), was one of five candidates who had put their name forward to the committee to replace Ross in Annapolis. Washington secured 15 votes from the committee, on which he also serves, besting Hyattsville Lawyer Karren Pope-Onwukwe, who had four votes, and Kisha Brown, who had two votes. Riverdale Park City Councilor Jonathan Ebbeler (Ward 1), and Darragh Inman also campaigned for the seat, but received no votes.
The selection of Washington was contrary to the wishes of the 22nd District delegation, Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-Prince Georges), Del. Anne Healey (D-District 22) and Del. Tawanna Gaines (D-District 22). They each supported Brown's candidacy, saying that she would be able to use her experience as a staff member for the state Attorney General's Office to "hit the ground running", according to Healey.
"My first priority will be going to every single community in the district, every single association, and talking with them, and asking them what their issues are," said Washington in an interview at Busboys and Poets after his election. "That's my number one priority."
Ross, who retired in September to spend more time with his family, was pleased with Washington's appointment. He split from his former District 22 colleagues and endorsed Washington before the committee during last night's meeting.
"I believe he has the critical strengths that will make him successful in Annapolis," said Ross during the meeting. "We need people who will unapologetically fight for Prince George's County."
Washington, who described himself as a "hardcore Prince Georgian" during the meeting, said his experience working in Prince George's County's political arena has prepared him to represent the interests of his constituents.
"I want to make changes in the community," said Washington. "I know what the budget looks like, I know where the budget gaps are, and I know the county executive can use me to fill those gaps."
Washington's appointment still has to be signed off by Gov. Martin O'Malley within the next month, which Ross said was all but guaranteed. With O'Malley's blessing, Washington will serve the remainder of Ross' term, which runs through 2014.