At least one new face could be in Annapolis next year to represent Prince George’s County from state District 24, an area which houses FedEx Field, the hometown of Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant and the reigning Maryland 1A state high school boys basketball and indoor and outdoor track and field champions.
Delegate Carolyn J.B. Howard, 78, of Mitchellville, may retire next year after 30 years in the Maryland General Assembly. The two incumbents, Jazz Lewis and Erek Barron, plan to seek re-election. However, at least four others plan to run.
Lewis and two other candidates, Prince George’s County Councilwoman Andrea Harrison and Maurice Simpson, received support from a major political figure: Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.). Brown attended functions for each person in recent weeks, but stressed he hasn’t formally endorsed anyone yet.
“I am encouraging all of the candidates because I think that the residents of the 24th legislative district deserve a robust campaign,” Brown said in an interview after a meet-and-greet event Sept. 30 for Simpson in Springdale. “I think [residents] deserve to have multiple candidates running.”
Candidates interviewed spoke on a variety of topics concerning the district that includes Landover, Seat Pleasant and Fairmount Heights.
Although all the candidates are Black, there’s still some diversity: two are younger than 30, one is a mayor and one is a political neophyte.
Barron, 43, of Mitchellville, co-chaired a workgroup to ensure the state supported Metro. Although legislation passed this year to form a regional Metro Safety Commission, Barron said in an email more work must be done on transit-oriented development around the Capitol Heights, Addison Road-Seat Pleasant and Morgan Boulevard Metro stations.
“The Largo Town Center Metro station is well on its way,” he said. “But if we’re serious about economic development, Metro and county officials must promote opportunities inside the beltway along the Blue Line and the Central Avenue corridor.”
The county’s Democratic Central Committee nominated Lewis, 28, in January to replace former delegate Michael E. Vaughn, who resigned from the legislature. However, authorities later charged Vaughn with bribery and conspiracy in connection with a pay-to-play scheme for liquor legislation.
Lewis, who did not respond to emails for comment, worked on the campaign for Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and was appointed in February by Gov. Larry Hogan to complete Vaughn’s term.
Simpson, also 28, serves as president of the county’s Young Democrats and works as a legislative aide for County Council.
He wants to see more economic development with state resources to help municipalities that border D.C. — Seat Pleasant, Capitol Heights and Fairmount Heights. For instance, he said college friends who move to the region for jobs, or attend graduate school, can’t afford to live in D.C. but still want to reside close to the city.
“Look at Hyattsville. Hyattsville has become this millennial epicenter,” he said. “There’s no reason for places like Fairmount Heights that can’t have the same resources.”
Harrison, a county native from Springdale, has been on the county council since 2008 but will step down next year because of term limits. She said fresh perspectives from young adults can help, but experience matters to craft legislation and build coalitions with the county delegations in Annapolis.
“Sometimes individuals who’ve not had a level of experience don’t necessarily understand an issue and what it means, or how it can translate on a larger scale,” said Harrison, who made an unsuccessful run for state delegate in 2002. “Fresh perspectives are always good, but you have to be able to temper that with experience.”
Sia Finoh, 40, said new voices are needed because some politicians have become comfortable in their positions. Finoh runs a nonprofit organization called Education for Africans that works with teenage girls and also collects books and ships them for girls in Africa.
“Our leaders are so fragmented,” said Finoh, a political novice who moved to the county at age 12 from Sierra Leone. “You don’t need a law degree. You should love Prince George’s County.”
Marnitta King has been mayor of Capitol Heights since 2014. She didn’t return an email for comment.
The candidate list could grow because the deadline to file for a candidacy isn’t until Feb. 27.