GREENBELT — A little over two months have passed since a momentous election day in Prince George’s County. Leading political figures in Greenbelt and Bowie have made history in their respective towns and discussed the challenges, successes and highlights of their term thus far in addition to expressing their outlook for the new year.
In the municipal election on Nov. 5, 2019, Colin Byrd became the youngest mayor ever elected in Greenbelt, winning the eight-person race with 1,769 votes. The 27-year-old is also the second Black mayor in city history and has served on the city council since 2017.
Byrd said he is happy to be part of the next generation of leadership and will do what he can to bridge the gap that may naturally exist between the youth and the elderly.
“So for me, the big thing that I focused on is before I won, and that I’ll continue to focus on from a policy and administrative standpoint is making Greenbelt work for 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds,” Byrd said.
“I think my age helps me have some appreciation for both ends of that spectrum. Obviously, I’m not 8; obviously, I’m not 80. However, I do have have a heart for both demographic brackets and all of those brackets in between.”
Keeping Greenbelt ‘green’ has and will be another priority for Byrd. The town’s environmental legacy is extraordinarily important, said Byrd, who also serves as the liaison for the Greenbelt Environmental Sustainability Committee.
Byrd said he has a unique appreciation and sensitivity to Greenbelt since he has lived there his entire life. The University of Maryland alumnus said his first two months haven’t been extraordinarily eventful, but he expects things to heat up in regards to legislative activity and intergovernmental advocacy.
“The greatest challenge has been making the transition from supporting role to a leadership role. And I say it’s a challenge, not from the standpoint of it being a negative challenge, but rather an opportunity,” Byrd said. “It’s an ongoing learning process. You never know everything. So just increasing that knowledge slowly but surely is a key focus for me right now.”
Since Byrd took over as mayor, the City of Greenbelt has become plaintiffs in a case “against some of the most egregious actors in the opioid industry,” in response to an alarming amount of opioid-related deaths, he said.
In addition, Byrd and a number of his colleagues have spoken out against the Northeast Maglev, a high-speed train project pledging to revolutionize travel through the Northeast Corridor. Byrd added that the City of Greenbelt had extended its body camera contracts for its police force.
The city budget, policy-related matters, reduction of the crime rate, improving bikeability, addressing issues related to land use and economic development, and increasing staffing with Greenbelt animal control are some of the initiatives Byrd said he plans to undertake this year.
“I’m going to try to do my best to honor the trust that people placed in me to lead the city in this capacity,” Byrd said.
Tim Adams has made history as the first Black mayor in the City of Bowie. Also, he is the first person to occupy the mayoral seat in 21 years after totaling 3,977 votes in the municipal election in November 2019 to replace G. Frederick Robinson.
Overdevelopment (one of the cornerstones of his campaign), education and environmental sustainability are a few of Adams’ central focuses as he seeks to work with colleagues and community members to improve the overall quality of life for the City of Bowie.
“I am excited, and I do embrace it, and I wanted to make sure that all those who supported me and wanted to see this happen are proud of the way I conducted myself and the way that we as a city move forward,” Adams said of his new leadership position.
Over Adams’ two months in office, he said he had expressed his intentions to support Bowie State University (BSU), which has taken a firm stance against overdevelopment – areas where the infrastructure isn’t in place to support ‘dense’ development, which brings up possible safety issues.
Adams has also established his position for the city to acquire the 180-acre Bowie Race Track to be used for recreational purposes, among other purposes. Upon hopefully obtaining the property, Adams said he hopes the city can preserve the history of the race track.
Adams, a 25-year resident of Bowie, founded System Application & Technologies Inc. (SA-TECH), which is headquartered in Upper Marlboro. Adams is against the construction of housing developments close to the sight of Freeway Airport and the proposed Glenn Dale project and voiced support for the creation of another high school to combat overcrowding, a long-standing issue in the county.
“I do want to make sure that we work closely with our county council to have them (see) a greater appreciation for what the citizens of Bowie want and what we can do together,” Adams said, also mentioning his goals of improved accessibility and economic development in Bowie.
“What we hope to do is make it a city that remains family-friendly. A city where one would be proud and honored to raise their kids. A city that has an outstanding education system, one where we care for all of our kids.”
He plans to use his philosophy, “one city, one Bowie” to move the city forward based upon what is best for the city’s residents.