SEABROOK – The county is about a month out from the June primaries. As all of the candidates running for the county council District 9 seat are registered Democrats, this primary will likely determine the next councilmember for that area. This year’s candidates are Orlando Barnes, Tanya Brooks, Tamara Davis Brown, Kevin Harris, Sydney Harrison, […]
SEABROOK – The county is about a month out from the June primaries. As all of the candidates running for the county council District 9 seat are registered Democrats, this primary will likely determine the next councilmember for that area. This year’s candidates are Orlando Barnes, Tanya Brooks, Tamara Davis Brown, Kevin Harris, Sydney Harrison, Daren Hester, Jeffrey Rascoe and Rodney Taylor. Sherman Hardy withdrew from the race in December.
District 9 is currently represented by Councilman Mel Franklin and includes the constituent areas of Accokeek, Brandywine, Camp Springs, Fort Washington and Upper Marlboro.
Barnes chose to run for county council this election year to utilize his talents in public service to help his community. If elected, he would focus on ensuring accountability measures are in place to restore trust and confidence in the public school system, as well as providing proper care and services for retirees. The latter element includes protecting seniors from rising rents.
Barnes said his experience with the county government sets him apart from his opponents.
After working as an attorney, Barnes served as Assistant Sheriff for the county and also served on the Executive Board for the Prince George’s County Wellness Committee.
“I want to assure the public, as opposed to making promises, I have a record of service in the county. I have a record of accomplishments that have made Prince George’s and the Prince George’s County government better,” Barnes said. “I have an understanding of the Prince George’s County government and services, and I will be able to hit the ground running.”
Brown described District 9 as a “forgotten area” in the county, and she wants to work to ensure that the region “gets the resources to handle infrastructure improvement,” including new schools and improved roadways. If she is elected to the county council, she would also like to allocate money to the police and fire departments, as well as address what she called “women’s issues,” such as domestic violence.
Brown said her priorities as a councilwoman would include ending waiver development impact fees for developers.
“I would offer legislation to ensure the development dollars that are collected for those adequate public facilities stay in the district in which the development is being built,” Brown said.
Brown would seek to keep her constituents engaged by holding regular events in which citizens can sit down for coffee with her.
Brown believes she is more than adequately prepared to serve on the county council due to her professional experience as an attorney and in-depth knowledge of the county zoning laws, which is a major responsibility of the county council.
Harris, on the other hand, highlighted the benefits his youth could provide as a councilmember. He said that at 36 years old, he is the “young fresh face that can push the county forward.” As a councilmember, he would focus on education and economic development, including improving road conditions. He wants an independent audit of the school system to ensure that “money that goes into (the school system) and is going to the classrooms.”
He also supports more affordable housing in the district and making the area “more welcoming towards millenials” while developing revenue sources to assist the senior population.
Harris is a Navy veteran and has previously served in the White House Communications Agency.
Harrison similarly discussed infrastructure improvement, which he said includes rehabilitating or rebuilding local schools. He also emphasized the need for access to quality medical care, particularly for seniors. He wants to see further economic development around the Metro stations while also “preserving, protecting and promoting” the rural area of District 9.
He believes his experience as a clerk of the court, with its administrative and executive responsibilities, has prepared him well to serve on the county council.
“With that type of experience, teamwork and collaboration I’ll bring to the county council to make sure we’re doing our jobs as elected officials to improve quality of life and education and working with our public safety officials to ensure we have proper operational staffing and resources so we can serve the public,” Harrison said.
Harrison is a member of the Prince George’s Democratic Central Committee and has local and abroad volunteer experience.
Hester also pointed to his professional experience as evidence that he is well-prepared to serve on the county council. He works as a community manager, which frequently involves dealing with zoning matters and public safety issues.
Hester is running for county council to be an “advocate for change” and “make sure the people have a voice.”
He promotes a “livable community agenda,” which includes his positions on economic development, education and public transportation. Hester supports having an independent agency investigate school board. He would also like to repair roads in the district and supports the light rail system from the Branch Avenue Metro station to Brandywine.
Hester, who is a veteran, is involved in various other work throughout the county, from job fairs to youth football leagues.
The sort of changes Rascoe would like to help offer more career and vocational training for young people in the county, improving school safety, providing more accessible transportation for seniors and having more after-school programming for students.
He said he “genuinely care(s) about the community,” which he demonstrates through hosting community events and volunteering with groups to support people affected by domestic violence.
“I think there should be less of a gap between the community and the government,” Rascoe said. “Our community should have access to our politicians. I want to be that person to give voice to those who don’t have a voice.”
Taylor said he is ready to take his experience presenting before the county council and the state government to serve on the other side of the dais as a councilmember. He believes District 9 has been left behind or forgotten in county policies, legislation, and decisions, and he hopes to turn that around.
Some of his priorities through which he intends to rebuild District 9 are by improving local transportation and increasing trash pickup. He wants to improve public transit and increase trash pickup. He believes the libraries in District 9 should be rebuilt, not merely renovated. Furthermore, Taylor’s goals include taking into account the impact on the environment and the health of residents development, including the presence of power plants, will have and continuing the county’s commitment to “zero waste.”
Like many of the other candidates, Taylor also wants to improve the local school system. He supports a fully elected school board.
Taylor works as the associate director for Prince George’s County Animal Management Division and began a mentorship program at Gwynn Park Middle School.
Brooks did not respond to multiple interview requests.
This article is part of a series.