SEABROOK – The upcoming primary election is less than four months away, and as both candidates for the District 1 County Council seat are registered Democrats, the winner is virtually assured a spot on the council.
Attorney Tom Dernoga and Laurel Mayor Craig Moe are running for the county council seat. The current District 1 councilwoman, Mary Lehman, is term-limited and is running for the House of Delegates for District 21.
District 1 made up of North Prince George’s County and includes Adelphi, Beltsville, Calverton, College Park, Laurel, Montpelier, South Laurel, West Laurel and Vansville.
Dernoga describes himself as a “long-time civic and environmental activist and attorney.”
Dernoga previously served on the county council from 2002 to 2010 and retired due to term limits. He decided to seek office again this year after other citizens and residents encouraged him that the council could once again benefit from his perspective as an activist and attorney.
“I think the county lacks an infrastructure renovation plan across all levels of infrastructure, not just schools,” Dernoga said. “We’ve got serious road infrastructure problems…We’ve got other aging buildings, and it’s kind of a crisis approach…so I want to see infrastructure plan and strategy.”
Dernoga said his priorities include dedicating funding toward school renovations and public safety. He said there are issues with over-crowded jails. He opposed the Washington Redskins building a stadium in Laurel, and the tried to protect the Belt Woods from development. Dernoga said he opposes the at-large seat because he believes county council members will only utilize them as a workaround the two-term term limits.
Moe, who has served as mayor of Laurel for the past 16 years, views serving on the county council a natural progression of his public service career.
“I still have the energy and the desire to work for my community and try to make good public policy,” he said.
Moe said he is embedded in his local community and learns about residents’ concerns by going door to door.
If elected, Moe’s priorities would include focusing on jobs, economic development, and affordable housing. With regard to education, Moe is a proponent of smaller class sizes, increased teacher salaries, universal pre-kindergarten, and a fully-elected school board. He said he would strive to maintain a positive relationship with his school board representative.
“I tell people that the heartbeat of any community is the residents and the businesses are our backbone, and so I support making sure that we work with our business community as well as the residents in the community itself,” Moe said.
He said this goal could be accomplished with mixed-use development. He added that “we need to increase our county tax base by attracting new commercial and retail businesses.”
Moe believes he has a history of listening to the community.
“I have a track record of treating people fairly and bringing groups of people together to solve issues and to form consensus,” Moe said. “I’ve always stood up for quality-of-life issues.The primary will take place on June 26.
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