Upstart Challenges Political Establishment in Southern Maryland

Joseph Spears Jr. (Courtesy of Friends of Josephs Spears)
Joseph Spears Jr. (Courtesy of Friends of Josephs Spears)

The late James E. Proctor Jr. and his widow, Elizabeth “Susie” Proctor, have represented parts of Southern Maryland as state delegates for nearly three decades — but that could soon change.

Joseph Spears Jr. has decided to challenge Susie Proctor for the District 27A seat in next June’s midterm election. The area includes Accokeek, Baden and Brandywine in Prince George’s and Hughesville and parts of Waldorf in Charles County.

Spears said James Proctor represented the district well, but his wife’s appointment in October 2015 to complete the term after his death has brought allegiance to the person who chose her, state Senate President Thomas “Mike” Miller. The Democratic central committees from Prince George’s and Charles counties nominated Proctor to the position and approved by Gov. Larry Hogan.

Miller and Proctor are pictured together in current campaign literature as “our Democratic team working for us.”

Maryland state Del. Susie Proctor (Courtesy of Friends of Susie Proctor)
Maryland state Del. Susie Proctor (Courtesy of Friends of Susie Proctor)

“We don’t want [voters] to receive a ballot and vote for everybody under Mike Miller,” said Spears, an assistant professor of sports management at Bowie State University who moved to Brandywine this year. “We need to look at who is going to benefit the interest of the people. We need the people’s behavior to change and [stop] voting on a slate.”

When Proctor read Spears’ press release about voters not being able to choose a candidate nearly two years ago, she declined to specifically comment on that point.

“I hope the person who can and will represent 27A the best is the one that wins the position,” she said.

Both candidates have a focus to improve the school system through rigorous programs for teachers and students.

They differ, however, on the school board structure, which allows the county executive to appoint three members and require experience in certain areas such as higher education and education. The county executive can also appoint the chair and vice chair. The county council appoints a fourth member and the remaining nine are elected.

The 14th member is designated as a high school student and voted on by a county student government association.

Spears said the other 13 board members should be elected, which adds accountability to the residents who voted for each person.

Proctor, a retired Prince George’s educator of 34 years, said the board benefits with a certain number of people experienced in budgets, education and other expertise.

“I would seriously look at some formation that include elected and appointed [members]. The key question would be appointed by whom?” said Proctor of Accokeek. “Then you have the experience needed to help the board.”

Both said another concern in the district is transportation, especially with heavy traffic along Routes 301 and 210.

Spears said the traffic will get worse for Brandywine residents with residential communities, five power plants and other business sprawling in the bedroom community of about 6,700.

“People need to feel empowered. They need to feel that their voices are heard,” he said. “If the people put me in my office … and I sell out and become ineffective, it’s representing the establish structure and that’s what’s currently going on.”

In the meantime, Proctor proposes to ask the Red Cross help transport residents from communities such as the town of Eagle Harbor in Prince George’s, where buses don’t travel.

To read more about Proctor’s platform and background, go to www.SusieProctor.com. Spears’ campaign information can be read at www.voteforjoe2018.com.

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About William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer 302 Articles
I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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