Prince George’s County voters in Districts 5 through 9 will head to the polls in less than a month with five seats up for grabs in the county council, not including the two at-large council seats.
Out of the five seats, the only contested race is in District 7, where Republican Gary Falls will be on the ballot running against Democrat Krystal Oriadha. Oriadha faces Falls after she defeated incumbent Rodney Streeter in the Democratic primary.
The Diamondback reached out to council candidates in Districts 5 through 9 to learn more about each candidate’s platform. Candidates are listed in order by their district. Read about candidates in Districts 1 through 4 here.
Jolene Ivey, a University of Maryland graduate, is seeking her second term in District 5.
Ivey, who previously represented District 47 in the Maryland House of Delegates, said her agenda gradually changed during her first term as she learned about new issues facing residents.
“Back when I was elected, you have certain ideas of mind,” Ivey said. “Then you get in office, and you find out that your own ideas take a backseat to what’s going on in real life.”
Ivey pointed to the surplus of storage units, which she said take up valuable land without providing employment opportunities, as an issue she never imagined she would have to address.
While on the council, Ivey helped kickstart a home visiting program that connects registered nurses with new parents to aid mothers who are victims of domestic violence or struggling with employment.
In the future, Ivey said new development plans in the county should be more transparent, and residents should be involved because they are often the most affected.
“People need to understand what’s going on because it affects them. In some instances, they’re paying for it,” she said.
Attorney Wala Blegay is running in District 6 to replace Johnathan Medlock. Blegay previously ran to represent District 25 in the state legislature in 2018, garnering 12.6 percent of the vote.
Prior to running for county council, Blegay was a labor rights activist and attorney, working as counsel for the D.C. Nurses association.
“I’m … fighting to make sure that nurses get proper pay, adequate safety standards in the workplace, and all of those things to make sure that they have what they need to provide quality health care,” Blegay said.
Blegay plans to address workers’ rights across the county by ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions.
“One of the things that I’m going to focus on in the council is making sure that we continue to protect workers by ensuring safe working conditions at work and making sure that workers are paid properly,” she said.
Blegay also hopes to focus on transit-oriented development in her district, especially in locations such as Largo. She said the current development plans are too spread out, leading to inconveniences for many residents.
“Right now, we have a lot of sprawl, where we have shopping centers everywhere and everything kind of spread out,” she said. “The idea is putting a lot of things around transit, so transit becomes the hub.
Blegay said she plans on using funds designated for the Blue Line corridor to create walkable, transit-oriented communities around the blue line.
Community activist Gary Falls is the only Republican candidate for Prince George’s County Council in November’s election. He will face Krystal Oriadha in the District 7 race.
Falls previously lost a race for Board of Education in District 8. Two years later, he said the largely one-party rule in Prince George’s County motivated him to run for political office once again.
“There are always two sides of the coin … To have one of those sites suppressed or missing indicates a larger problem,” he said. “For the past 40 years, the Democrats basically have developed a monopoly.”
If elected, Falls said crime is the leading issue he hopes to address. He said he supports increasing funding for the Prince George’s County Police Department.
“Any civilized society that does not have that law enforcement is subject to chaos,” Falls said.
Falls also criticized the curfew implemented by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in response to the rise in crime. He said the act was unconstitutional and an infringement of citizens’ rights.
Falls urged voters to challenge the status quo.
“[District 7 residents] can be anything they want. But, they have to do the hard work to get there. We’re going to finance them and we’re going to fund them to do that,” Falls said.
Longtime Seat Pleasant resident Krystal Oriadha is seeking her first opportunity on the county council in District 7 after defeating incumbent Rodney Streeter in July’s primary.
Oriadha is the co-founder of PG ChangeMakers, an organization committed to addressing community issues. She also serves as the Maldon Foundation’s vice president.
According to her website, Oriadha hopes to address current economic hardships by creating affordable housing options and expanding resources for small businesses.
If elected, Oriadha would become the Prince George’s County Council’s first openly LGBTQ+ member.
She did not respond to a request for comment.
Edward Burroughs III
Edward Burroughs III is preparing for his first full term after winning a special election in January to replace Monique Anderson-Walker, who resigned from the council to be Peter Franchot’s running mate in Maryland’s 2022 gubernatorial race.
Despite being the youngest county council member, Burroughs has been in local politics for more than a decade. At age 18, he became the youngest elected member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education after serving as the board’s student member.
On the county council, Burroughs vows to continue bettering education in the county by promoting innovative teaching strategies, paying teachers competitive wages and modernizing school infrastructure.
Burroughs also plans to oppose an increase in property taxes and continue to invest in workforce development resources, according to his website.
Burroughs did not respond to a request for comment.
Former small business owner and real estate professional Sydney Harrison is seeking reelection in District 9, which includes Upper Marlboro and Clinton.
First elected in 2018, Harrison serves as the council’s vice chair. He was previously the county’s circuit court clerk and a member of the Democratic Central Committee in the 27th legislative district.
According to his website, Harrison has been active in his district by supporting the nonprofit sector and raising awareness for victims of domestic violence. His policy initiatives include ensuring community safety and diversifying economic development.
Harrison declined to comment.