As of Oct. 9, four people have thrown their hat into the running to become Prince George’s County Executive and two of the most well-known contenders are Black women.
After serving eight years in Congress and losing her bid for a U.S. Senate seat, Rep. Donna Edwards joined the race last week after she spent months traveling across the country in a sport utility vehicle. And after driving 12,000 miles through 27 states Edwards has returned and said she is focused on becoming the next county executive.
“To my Democratic party, you cannot show up in churches before the election day, you cannot sing the first and last verse of“Life Every Voice and Sing,” and you cannot walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and call that post racial and inclusion,” Edwards told the AFRO.
In a county where people often win elective offices through endorsements and being on political teams, Edwards is prepared to walk a road less travelled following a Senate race where some of the county and state’s Black lawmakers supported Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) over her.
Edwards also took a shot directly at House Speaker Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) who had been organizing trips for members of Congress in March to celebrate the Voting Rights story in Selma. “Our battle is not over, our work is not done,” said Edwards, who a year after her concession speech, in April of 2016, is ready for a new political office.
Edwards said despite political set-backs and entering a crowded field she is ready to go. “None of us can sit back and cry over spilt milk,” Edwards said. “No matter where we are there is always something we can do to improve the lives of others.”
“Many organized against me when I first ran for Congress that is just politics,” said Edwards, who defeated former Congressman Albert Wynn in 2008. “For me, this is about my commitment to our community. It doesn’t stop because of a little slight or a hurt. This is politics.”
Edwards announced her candidacy on Oct. 5 through Facebook. She will be squaring off against Prince George’s States Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, Maryland State Sen. Anthony Muse and Paul Monteiro, a former White House aide to President Barack Obama. The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 2018. As of Oct. 9, there are no Republican contenders.
“I’m running for county executive because I believe that on the ground, and in communities, we can actually do some great things that will benefit people and make a difference,” Edwards said in her speech that was broadcast on YouTube. Edwards said making the announcement this way is part of her outreach to a new generation that is very technology savvy.
On education, Edwards said, “We’ve got a lot of amazing young people, but they’re not all going to amazing schools. If we’re asking our kids to grow up and participate in a 21st Century economy, then we cannot have them going to school in 20th century schools. We have enough money in our school system, but we need to deploy [it] in a very different kind of way: making sure that we reduce class sizes, that we invest in classrooms and in educators, not just in administrators. We need to make sure that education translates into creating jobs and opportunity.”
Edwards said she wants to incorporate more community health clinics and get a “world-class hospital” in the county. “Prince George’s County has a strong, diverse small business community that needs to be supported so it can grow,” Edwards said. With the “tech triangle” of the University of Maryland, Goddard Space Center, and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), we have huge potential to create an innovation economy that can be a hub of a whole new generation of start-up small businesses in our county.
“In this vibrant region, we have the most affordable land for development, modern transit and transportation systems and a diverse and rich culture for your employees. Now we need to deliver an education system that produces a workforce skilled for tomorrow’s jobs to attract new employers.”
Edwards is a native of North Carolina and a graduate of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. “I had a range of options to reflect with my skills and passions when I thought about the county’s needs and I felt liberated to get back to my roots in the county,” she said.