B.J. Paige is running for the District 7 council seat because, he said, he wants to see District 7 become a more prosperous and inclusive area. “I am running because you just can’t talk about making your community better, you have to show action,” Paige told the AFRO.
District 7 is located in the western-central part of Prince George’s County and borders the District of Columbia’s northeast and southeast quadrants. In addition to Capitol Heights, Md. it includes District Heights, Hillcrest Heights, Marlow Heights, Seat Pleasant, Suitland, Temple Hills, and portions of Forestville and Oxon Hill. District 7 is 91 percent Black and has the highest percentage of African Americans by district in the county, according to the 2010 census.
Karen Toles has represented District 7 on the Prince George’s County Council since 2009 and cannot serve a third term by law. Toles has indicated she is interested in one of the new two at-large seats to be filled in 2018.
In addition to Paige, former Capitol Heights Mayor Darrell Miller; political activist and AFRO writer Bruce Branch, who has not officially filed election papers; and Rodney Streeter, who used to work for Camille Exum when she represented District 7 on the county council, are also candidates for the District 7 seat. The Democratic primary is June 26, 2018.
As Paige campaigns, he is telling District 7 residents he wants to focus on youth and workforce development, helping returning citizens to be productive, and making sure the elderly in the district have affordable housing. “I want to offer young people jobs programs that they want to participate in and not what we adults want them to do,” he said. He said the jobs programs should help young people get into careers, whether or not they want to go to college.
Paige also believes the district’s elderly residents shouldn’t be forced out of their homes because of rising housing prices. “I have noticed that housing for seniors have become very expensive, even those who are retired,” he said. “As a member of the county council, I want to change that. Seniors should be able to stay where they are without being displaced.”
Returning citizens should also have the chance to lead productive lives in Prince George’s County, Paige said. “There is not one transition home in Prince George’s County,” he said. “You would have to go to the District of Columbia, Rockville, or Baltimore to find one and that’s not right. We need a transition home in the county and it should be in District 7.”
Paige is a founder of a non-profit, “Boys 2 Bowties,” an organization that supports young people between the ages of 8 and 18 with workshops, mentors and consultants. He is also involved with the Prince George’s County NAACP as a youth advisor, the vice president of the Parent-Teacher-Student Association at Central High School, and a member of the South County Democratic Committee. He currently works as a youth business consultant at the Prince George’s County Economic Corporation. Paige is married with two teenagers and attends Zion Church in Landover, Md.
Emma Andrews is a longtime political activist in Prince George’s County, starting her activism in the mid-1960s. Andrews knows almost all of the political players in the county but confesses she knows little about Paige. “I have heard of him,” she told the AFRO. “I don’t know him very well but I have seen him at functions in the area.” Andrews, who lives in Pepper Mill Village, in the inner-Beltway, said she hasn’t decided who she would support for the District 7 seat.
“I feel that you should have a certain number of years working in the community before seeking out a position like the county council,” Andrews said. “I want to make sure that people who are running for the county council know what my needs are.”