O’Malley weighing options for Alston seat -- Gazette.Net


Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) is reviewing a new group of potential delegates after the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee this week revoked its nominee to fill a vacant seat.

A spokeswoman for the governor said he would take the new names submitted by the central committee to fill the District 24 seat that previously had been Del. Tiffany T. Alston’s into consideration but had not made a choice as of Thursday.

In a contentious meeting Tuesday night that saw Greg Hall, the committee’s original choice, trading barbs with committee Chair Terry Speigner, the central committee recommended three nonbinding choices for the seat. O’Malley is free to select one of them or choose his own candidate.

After the meeting, Hall criticized the governor for overriding the committee’s selection process and taking the choice away from county residents.

“At the end of the day, the governor gets what he wants, and Prince George's County once again gets screwed,” Hall said.

The committee voted to recommend Vicky L. Ivory-Orem, Clayton Aarons or Phillip Raines to fill the vacancy.

Ivory-Orem, who has served as a judge with the Prince George’s County Orphans’ Court since 2006, said she was approached by friends and community leaders and encouraged to pursue the seat.

“It was a resounding ‘we need new energy,’” Orem said. She told the committee her community was tired of the negative publicity the county has received in recent years due to the misconduct of elected officials.

Both Aarons, an attorney and former prosecutor, and Raines, an IT project manager with the Department of Defense, sought Alston’s seat in November.

“I don’t seek this for a title. I don’t seek this for money. I seek this to serve the community,” Aarons told the committee.

Raines told the committee he brought a wealth of experience from the private sector and was qualified — “ready, willing and able to serve my community.”

All three assured the committee their backgrounds were clean.

The committee’s decision appears to bring the tumultuous saga of Hall’s appointment to a close. He was elected by the central committee in November to fill the District 24 seat that had been Alston’s, who was removed from office in October when she pleaded no contest to a charge of misusing campaign funds and was given a one-year suspended jail sentence on a separate charge of misusing General Assembly funds.

Hall ran for the seat in the 2010 primary, losing to Alston by 310 votes.

But controversy arose about criminal charges that Hall, a former drug dealer, faced as a younger man, including his implication in a 1992 shootout that left a teenage bystander dead, and O’Malley asked the central committee to withdraw Hall’s nomination in November.

Hall sued to keep the committee from obeying the governor’s request, and his complaint became entwined with a separate suit filed by Alston, who claimed because her suspended sentence was later converted to probation before judgment, the seat was rightfully hers.

A Circuit Court judge ruled against both Hall and Alston in December, and the decision was upheld by the Maryland Court of Appeals earlier this month.

Because the seat has been vacant more than 30 days, the governor has the right to appoint his choice to fill the vacancy.

After rescinding Hall’s nomination at Tuesday's meeting, Speigner said nine people had asked to be considered for the seat and asked if anyone else present wanted to be considered.

That process drew criticism from committee member Dennis Whitley III, who said he was being asked to vote on new recommendations before the committee had had time to thoroughly vet the candidates.

Speigner said most of the names submitted had been written about in news accounts. “If you've been following this, you know who’s expressed interest,” Speigner said.

Hall asked if he could again submit his name for consideration, and Speigner refused, saying he already had been vetted as a candidate, and the process would be redundant.

A few minutes later, when Hall wished to speak, he fought for Speigner’s attention with the words, “Hey, excuse me,” which drew a rebuke from Speigner.

“It's not, ‘hey.’ I'm the chairman,” Speigner said.

“I don't know what you are,” Hall shot back.