By Cara Williams,
Special to the AFRO
Billy W. Bridges, 61, worked for the Prince George’s County school system for 24 years and has seen the county’s uneven economic growth, persistent problems with public safety, and lack of access to first-rate medical care. He has a plan.
Bridges, originally from Mississippi, came to Prince George’s County through the military.
The Air Force veteran holds an undergraduate degree in political science, a graduate degree in public administration, fire and emergency management, and pastoral counseling. He attended Mississippi Valley State University and Grand Canyon University.
Bridges said that in Mississippi, he grew up experiencing overt racism. The surprise for him in coming to Prince George’s County, he said, is “noticing it is being
] done by our race to each other,” he said.
Bridges plans to stop the “sharecropping” mentality with his New Prince George’s Plan of Change. Bridges’ priorities are citizen health and wealth, public safety, and education if elected county executive.
“The well-being and safety of citizens is a responsibility for any government of integrity,” Bridges said.
Bridges plans to transform the economic divide that he says “is afflicting Prince George’s County.” Residents have expressed long-standing concern about the distinct difference between communities in the northern part of the county, like College Park, Hyattsville, and Calverton having better access to services and transportation, as opposed to south county communities that are off major transportation and service routes.
Bridges’ first initiative is the citizen investment co-op.
This plan allows citizens of any income level to invest in development projects and generate employment opportunities. The co-op will construct environmentally friendly low to middle-income housing.
He plans to support small businesses with lower taxes or tax credits for moving employees to a living minimum wage. With the massive citizen investments, Bridges believes the government can lower taxes and eliminate mortgage taxes for the elderly.
Another priority of Bridges is to implement health policies that serve the County’s low-income population. Close to 10 percent of Prince George’s County residents live at or below poverty, according to 2020 Census statistics. This is in spite of the fact that half of the county residents earn in excess of $90,000, making Prince George’s one of the wealthiest Black counties in the U.S.
Bridges explore the possibility of a charity hospital for those that cannot afford health care and set aside funds and resources to connect the community with Medicaid and Medicare.
With the new Prince George’s County Plan, Bridges will transform the police department into a department of public safety. He wants to see an increase in community policing and an expansion of police sports leagues and other police/youth contact to build positive relationships between law enforcement and County youth.
Bridges will sponsor gun buy-back incentives for citizens to report anyone suspected of having an unauthorized weapon and provide real-time monitored surveillance, more frequent patrols, and a response time of under three minutes. He will ensure police not only have possession of body cameras – but also enforce measures for them to wear the cameras.
Bridges’ last priority is the Prince George’s County Public School System,
With a tenure of 24 years, Bridges said he would transform the school system out of a “culture of corruption, nepotism, and ineffectiveness.”
He plans to keep the schools an educational conduit, not a platform for political agendas.
“School construction, effective curriculum, and a safe environment should be standard,” Bridges said.
His vigorous plan to keep our youth safe while in school includes a police kiosk at the elementary schools, a public safety officer, and a K-9 officer at the middle and high schools.
The plan will implement a new curriculum with minimized testing. “Parents will be held accountable for their child and be involved in the child’s strategy for success,” he said.
“I believe in governing from the needs of the people,” Bridges continued. “Until these issues are resolved, the dysfunction and excuses will remain that have plagued Prince George’s County for decades.”
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