Prince George’s Co. building name a tribute to former county executive

WASHINGTON — Prince George’s County residents who have county-related business to attend to will have to type a different name in their GPS starting in early 2018.

That’s because the new Wayne K. Curry Administration Building in Largo, Maryland, will open as the home for a number of county administrative offices, including that of county executive.

Public officials held a dedication ceremony at the new building in what County Executive Rushern Baker likes to call “downtown Largo” on Thursday.

Moving the county operations of the executive and council is seen as a way of making local government more accessible: Largo is located in the center of the county, whereas the current County Administration Building is in Upper Marlboro on the county’s eastern border.

While the idea behind the move is to create a new “downtown” in the county’s center, the ceremony on Thursday morning became a tribute to the county executive for whom the building is named. Curry died in 2014 at the age of 63.

Doug Duncan, former Montgomery County Executive recalled how he and Curry used to head to Annapolis during the legislative sessions to push for more funding for their jurisdictions.

Duncan said he’d drive to Annapolis himself, find a spot in a nearby parking garage, and walk to the State House. Curry, on the other hand, took a different approach. Curry would roll up to State House Circle in a dark SUV.

Duncan told the crowd, “He’d step out of the SUV and immediately 30 people would be around him. It was like the heavyweight champion of the world showed up in Annapolis,” Duncan said to nods and laughter.

Duncan said that Curry had something many current politicians lack: vision.

“His leadership was extraordinary, his vision was extraordinary, and he taught me a lot.”

Current Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker told of how his wife counseled him during his political career and urged him to make Curry his mentor.

“That loudmouth at our picnic?” Baker recalled asking her.

Smiling at the memory of Curry’s boundless energy and how his sometimes brash nature could disarm people, Baker said that he was sweating the details of opening the new county building, including the size of the letters on the front.

“I’m worried whether his name will be large enough to please him” Baker said, generating guffaws from the crowd.

Taking a serious tone, Baker said he did worry that the significance of Curry’s tenure as county executive would be lost on future generations. Curry was the first African-American elected to the position in the county.

“It makes a difference because this county progressed because he lived. It’s not simply a name on a building that you walk into. It’s not simply history, it is the future,” Baker said.

Former Maryland state Sen. Tommie Broadwater summed up Curry’s drive, swagger and joy in the rough and tumble of politics while serving Prince George’s County by saying “Hey, look. Wayne is the man.”

The new building is set to open in early 2018.

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