More than two dozen elected officials who represent Prince George's County circulated a letter Monday protesting remarks Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler made over the weekend as he opened a gubernatorial campaign office in Forestville.
The officials — including U.S. Reps. Donna Edwards and Steny Hoyer and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller — accused Gansler of making comments that "tear down" Prince George's.
Gansler, a Democrat, was quoted in The Washington Post as questioning the quality of life in the county.
"When I was growing up, you couldn't shop in a mall in Prince George's or go to a restaurant with a table cloth in Prince George's. You had to come to Montgomery or Anne Arundel County. And it's not that different now," Gansler said.
The elected officials — most of whom have endorsed Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown for governor — called Gansler's remarks "demeaning" and charged the the attorney general is perpetuating "out of touch stereotypes" about the county. The signers of the open letter to county residents include state senators, delegates, county council members, municipal officials and State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.
A perceived lack of high-end shopping and dining opportunities has long been a sensitive subject in Prince George's, but county officials contend they have made important strides in remedying that in recent years. The letter names National Harbor, the Hyattsville Arts District and Woodmore Towne Centre as examples of places that offer fine dining and shopping.
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The officials also objected to a Gansler comment that "there's still education redlining going on in Prince Georges County." The letter contends that Gansler's "reckless statement disrespects our shared commitment to improving our schools and belittles the hard work of students and educators."
The officials also pointed to another Gansler comment as "irresponsible."
Everyone who's got a powerful interest in this status quo staying what it is, and keeping Prince George's County down, is going to be against us, but we're not going to let that happen," he said.
The letter accuses Gansler of "putting hiis own political ambition and gain ahead of the people of our county by making another blatant effort to divide us."
Gansler's campaign supplied a video showing that the attorney general's remarks were apparently well received by supporters who attended the opening. The video shows Gansler standing side by side with his running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey of Prince George's, contending that the county has received short shrift from the O'Malley-Brown administration on schools, transportation and economic development.
The campaign released a statement from Ivey Monday rejecting the elected officials' criticism.
"Don't let 28 people who have a vested interest in the status quo drown out the voices of the more than 200 Prince Georgians who cheered their support," Ivey said. "The Gansler-Ivey team will not tell the people of Prince George's they should be happy with less than everybody else."