Krystal Oriadha wants to represent District 7 on the Prince George’s County Council as a proactive leader and a voice for her neighbors and not just one who will “goalong-to-get-along” in Upper Marlboro.

“I am not a politician, I am an activist,” Oriadha told the AFRO. “We must all take responsibility and share the burden of building a community we can be proud of. That is part of the reason I am running.

Krystal Oriadha lives in Seat Pleasant, Md. (Courtesy Photo-Krystal Oriadha).

“We need to step up and demand better from ourselves and do better for our community.”

This is Oriadha’s first run for elected office. She is a resident of Seat Pleasant, Md.

Oriadha is a native of Harris County, Texas and grew up on the outskirts of Houston. She graduated from Howard University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in International Business with a concentration in marketing and has a MBA from Amberton University in Garland, Texas.

Oriadha said she is on leave as a consultant with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, working in the areas of domestic violence and human trafficking.

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 Seat Pleasant, it includes Capitol Heights, District Heights, Hillcrest Heights, Marlow Heights, 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.

Oriadha’s opponents include entrepreneur B.J. Paige, former Capitol Heights Mayor Darrell Miller; political activist and AFRO writer Bruce Branch, Rodney Streeter, who used to work for Camille Exum when she represented District 7 on the county council; Suitland Civic Association President Karen Anderson; and community activists Juan Stewart Jr. and Greg Falls. The Democratic primary is June 26, 2018.

Oriadha said activism not politics as usual will be her guide as a member of the county council.

“We need more advocates and activists at the table,” she said. “Politicians tend to have a disconnect with the real world that people are dealing with every day. I don’t care about accolades and I will have less ego and more humility as a council member.”

Oriadha’s platform highlights three areas: education, economic development and improving District 7 residents’ quality of life.

“I want pre-Kindergarten for all of our children,” she said. “I would like to see teachers get a pay raise with fair evaluations and build community schools.”

Regarding economic development, Oriadha is aware that District 7 is behind other districts in the county and wants to change that.

“I want to bring developers into the community,” she said. “I also want to create more opportunity for small businesses. It is very difficult for small businesses to get capital from banks to fund their businesses.”

Oriadha said she wants to improve the county’s grants programs and wants it to teach prospective or experienced entrepreneurs how to write a business plan.

In addition, she supports a living wage for all working residents and wants to create a pro-business atmosphere that fosters access to quality jobs.

Oriadha said improving quality of life in District 7 should accommodate the needs of young adults and seniors.

“We want to bring younger people into the community,” she said. “They represent growth and can help invest in the district. I want to help seniors renovate their houses at a reasonable rate and bring down their property taxes because they are too high.

“Our seniors should be able to retire with grace.”

Oriadha has been endorsed by UNITE HERE Local 25, the hotel workers union and Progressive Maryland. On the Local 25 nod, Oriadha said “I am very supportive of the work they are doing on behalf of their members.”

“With their support and the support of thousands of union members across the area, we are building a movement to uplift the voices of our communities,” she said.

Pamela Boone is the president of CPAC, a citizens group in Seat Pleasant that supports the city’s police department and advocates for a safer community. Boone, who has lived in Seat Pleasant for decades and is active in county-wide efforts to fight crime, told the AFRO she knows little about Oriadha.

“I don’t know much about her,” Boone said. “I haven’t seen any of her literature. I do wish her all the best but she should get out and meet her constituents.”