Prince George’s County voters will head to the polls in less than two months with high-stakes races at both the state and local levels.

Rudy Anthony, president of the Prince George’s County Young Democrats, said crime was the top issue for voters in the county not only during the primary elections this past summer, but also heading into the midterm elections.

“Honestly, it happened during the campaign season. I heard from a bunch of constituents in the county that their primary concern was crime,” Anthony said.

Over Labor Day weekend, four people were killed in Prince George’s County, including a 15-year-old boy in Capitol Heights. Police investigated 24 homicides in the month of August alone — the single deadliest month in Prince George’s County history, according to Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.

Anthony said the issue stemmed from a lack of investment in mental health resources in the county. He called upon parents to understand the struggles of their children before it’s too late.

Laurel City council member Martin Mitchell pointed to the lack of opportunity and economic development as the underlying cause of increased crime, referring to the teen curfew enacted by Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks as reactive and a “band-aid” solution.

Anthony echoed Mitchell’s economic concerns heading into the midterms. He hopes to see concerted efforts among state and local leaders to bring higher paying jobs to the county, especially among larger corporations entering the state.

“Regulations from the state need to make sure that large companies like Amazon are paying people livable wages and not just $15 an hour because we are talking about [Prince George’s] County,” Anthony said. “We really mean like 20 to $25 an hour.”

[Prince George’s County to enforce curfew for all minors starting this weekend]

Freshman government and politics major Tara Davoodi added that educational equity is an “equalizer” for children across the state and must be addressed at the state level.

“I want all students in the state of Maryland to have access to a really quality education, no matter the zip code that they’re in, no matter the funding level of their community,” Davoodi said.

Supporting candidates who vow to enshrine abortion into the state’s constitution is also top of mind for Davoodi, who cited that the right to an abortion is currently only protected by state law. Davoodi hopes voters will be galvanized by the high stakes to vote in November.

“If [Democrats] lose majorities in both of those chambers [of Congress], all the reforms that people want to see happen like abortion can’t happen,” Davoodi said.

In addition to tackling tangible issues, such as crime and abortion, Prince George’s County Democrats also hope newly elected leaders can bridge the disconnect between younger voters and government.

Former retail worker Rashad Lloyd, who is now running for Maryland Senate, said the disconnect between voters and politicians can hamper political action.

“There’s only one issue and that issue is the disconnect between our representatives and the actual people,” Lloyd said. “The only way to fix it is to stop playing politics.”

Understanding voters at a grassroots level is necessary year-round, and not just during election seasons, Lloyd added.

[PGCPS continues to grapple with teacher shortage]

Davoodi commended candidates such as Pennsylvania Democratic Senate Nominee John Fetterman for taking advantage of social media platforms such as TikTok and Twitter to not only relate to the younger populations through humor, but also inform voters of the facts.

But Davoodi believes messaging across the state is a mixed bag. She thinks state and local politicians can cater to younger voters by being more casual on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.

“I don’t really know if I’ve seen that [humor on social media] from many candidates that are running in Maryland, but I really hope to see more of it. I hope more young people understand that politicians are trying to show that they are on the side of young people,” Davoodi said.

Acknowledging Davoodi’s concerns, Anthony said youth involvement in politics across Prince George’s County has been at a standstill for the past decade, and hopes this year’s midterm elections are an opportunity to have younger voices heard in politics.

“They are going to continue to ignore us unless we get out there and say something,” Anthony said. “We can’t keep letting grandma and grandpa drive the wheel when they’re gonna make decisions for them.”