Angela Alsobrooks (Courtesy photo)
Angela Alsobrooks (Courtesy photo)

Four citizens from Maryland hope to derail Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks’ plan to secure a second four-year term.

Leigh Bodden, Sherman Hardy, Tonya Sweat and Billy Bridges will try to convince Democratic voters during early voting, July 7 – July 14 and on primary Election Day, July 19.

Bridges fell short in his bid for county executive in 2018 while the remaining three candidates represent political newcomers. However, they all believe they can effectively lead the executive branch of the county government.

Some of the executive duties include: preparing a billion-dollar budget; overseeing the operation of county agencies; and serving as the county’s biggest cheerleader in the state of Maryland’s second-largest jurisdiction.

Aneka Better of Upper Marlboro attended a recent county executive candidate’s forum in Largo and said Alsobrooks came prepared to assess the county’s successes. But Better said all of the candidates mainly spoke about opportunities for parents or senior citizens.

“I’m in neither category,” said Better, who’s married with no children, works as a meeting planner and manages a consulting business with her sister called Serendipity Special Events. 

“I make too much money to get government assistance,” she said. “I make too much money to get education credit that phases out for people like me but I don’t make enough money to qualify for [certain] tax breaks. Some of us are kind of stuck in the middle. That’s the kind of leadership I’m looking for in this county to help those of us in that category.”

As of Friday, June 24, the county had 463,336 active Democratic voters, which accounts for the highest percentage of voters in that party in Maryland.

In comparison, there are 37,450 Republicans and almost 86,000 unaffiliated active voters in the county.

No Republican, independent or third-party candidates filed to run in the primary, so the person who receives the Democratic nomination could run unopposed in the November general election.

Alsobrooks, Bodden, Hardy and Sweat emailed responses to four questions about their platform, issued by The Washington Informer. Here are their responses.

Angela Alsobrooks

Age: 51

Occupation: Prince George’s County Executive

Why are you seeking reelection for county executive?

“As a proud, lifelong Prince Georgian, I’m seeking re-election as County Executive so we can continue the tremendous progress we have made in the past three and a half years, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We broke ground on nine new schools last year, we just opened the County’s first behavioral health facility and we opened the Office of Veterans Affairs to serve our 60,000 veterans. There is still work to be done and the best is yet to come for Prince George’s. I want to be sure we can continue to go “Further Together” for our residents.”

What are a few things the county must improve upon?

While we have made progress building a continuum of care in the County, including opening a new hospital and breaking ground on a new cancer center, we know we still have to further expand access to healthcare for our residents. We’ve also made progress to improve government services for residents, including the launch of a new PGC311 mobile app. However, we know we can further expand government services available to our residents. Finally, we continue to face a regional and national rise in violent crime and we must continue investing resources to heal people and also hold people accountable.”

How will your administration help residents with the most severe needs such as returning citizens or those unemployed?

“My Administration has increased resources available to residents in both areas. In the most recent budget, we allocated additional funding for re-entry services to support returning citizens. We have also created the Office of Re-Entry in County Government, based out of the County Executive’s Office, while also hosting job fairs focused on returning citizens. Our local economy is bouncing back and we will regain all the jobs we lost by the end of this year, ahead of initial predictions. We also opened a new American Job Center at National Harbor which helps connect residents with job training and employment opportunities.”

Is there one characteristic that makes you the most qualified to manage a county of nearly one million people?

I’m not afraid to make tough decisions that are in the best interest of Prince Georgians and I have shown that throughout my first term as County Executive. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Prince George’s County was the first jurisdiction to have a mask mandate because I issued an Executive Order. After the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent social justice movement, I created a Police Reform Work Group to tackle the issue of police reform. I love Prince George’s and the residents of this amazing County. I will always stand up and do what’s right for my hometown.”

Leigh Bodden (Courtesy photo)

Leigh Bodden

Age: 40

Occupation: Retired NFL player, entrepreneur

Why are you running for county executive?

“I’m running for county executive to be the voice of the people. I’m running to demand excellence from our county leaders and hold them accountable for the jobs they have or have not done. If they cannot get the job done sufficiently, I will find someone who can. I’m running to be a transparent leader and consult the people on important decisions before they are made.”

What are a few things the county must improve upon?

“Education is where we must improve. We need more skill-based learning (farming, culinary, coding, graphic design to name a few). Yoga needs to be implemented weekly for mental health. We need to create enjoyable environments and provide better resources for our students and teachers. We need to find a way to better assess our teachers and pay them comparable wages to neighboring school systems, once we find them effective. We also need to improve the accountability of teachers and administrators in regard to the treatment towards the students. Lastly, our school lunches need major improvement, we need better core meals and healthier options.

“Police accountability needs to improve. Misconduct is being hidden and not taken seriously which leads to more misconduct and the citizens suffer. We need to hold those that are paid to protect and serve our community to a higher standard and remove those that are repeat offenders of misconduct.

“We need to create a healthier balance between big business and small business in the county. So, stronger support for small businesses is needed, not only financial support but most importantly promotional support.”

How will your administration help residents with the most severe needs such as returning citizens or those unemployed?

“Ensure that opportunities are available to those in severe need of work.”

Is there one characteristic that makes you the most qualified to manage a county of nearly one million people?

“Being fearless is one characteristic that makes me most qualified to manage the county. I’ve done the impossible with my life, therefore I can accomplish whatever needs to be accomplished for the nearly one million people in the county.”

Sherman Hardy (Courtesy photo)

Sherman Hardy

Age: 37

Occupation: Realtor/Title Agent 

Why are you running for county executive?

“I am running because I want to bring truth, trust and transparency to the government. Foster safe livable communities, protect our environment, create lasting jobs with livable wage and repair our crumbling infrastructure. I’m running to innovate the county. Prepare a balanced budget that reflects our community needs. My administration seeks to protect its citizens by creating a community bank to help residents and small business owners, establish municipal Wi-Fi to close the digital divide, expand our transportation system and ensure that all Prince Georgians can age in place.”

What are a few things the county must improve upon?

“The county needs a complete overhaul from top to bottom with our systems and elected officials. First, we can begin with the disinvestment of the central and southern parts of the county. We haven’t built roads and sidewalks, schools, public services, libraries, commercial or other infrastructure necessary to support smart growth and development. My opponent touts reducing crime by 50% as the state’s attorney but is unable to do so in her present capacity all the while officers have lost faith in her administration. The school system remains with a scarlet letter. Economic development isn’t developing. Ethics and Accountability Department lacks. DHCD (Department of Housing and Community Development), DPIE (Department of Permitting, Inspection and Enforcement), Health Department, Emergency Management, nor Department of Public Works are functioning properly or efficiently. Unhealthy communities [are] still an issue as we face food apartheid/swamps and environmental racism.”

How will your administration help residents with the most severe needs such as returning citizens or those unemployed?

“My administration will finally fund the Reentry Department and invest in programs to ensure that those who paid their debts to society are reintegrated in a holistic manner. My goal is to invest in more Career & Technical Education Training for school age individuals as well as adults/seniors to train for jobs of the future. I will also create initiatives to hire those who live in our county first. Lastly, we must expand our transportation system. The new employment center is out of reach for many without reliable transportation. We must make sure citizens can get to and from work.”

Is there one characteristic that makes you the most qualified to manage a county of nearly one million people?

“I have been called ambitious, something I am beginning to take pride in. We need an ambitious County Executive with eyes and a heart only for Prince George’s. Some of my ambitious goals have already worked within the county [such as] advocating for body cameras and police reform, affordable housing, education and environmental concerns. Much of my activism over the years manifested as policy and programs we share today.”

Tonya Sweat (Courtesy photo)

Tonya Sweat

Age: 49

Occupation: Attorney

Why are you running for county executive?

“Quite frankly, I am mad as hell! I am running for County Executive because I am concerned about the lack of leadership, the condition of our public education system and the state of our community. Prince Georgians, from cradle to grave, are suffering from a lack of support from local government. Our children are in dire need of improved education and recreation. Our community is suffering from healthcare disparities, poor infrastructure, food deserts, increasing crime, ineffective workforce development, environmental injustice and more. We need leadership who knows how to get results for Prince Georgians.”

What are a few things the county must improve upon?

“My priorities are children, community and competence. I will:

  • Work with the Board of Education to improve the culture, curriculum and environment of our public schools.
  • Help obtain funding to build new schools and renovate salvageable ones.
  • Work with Parks and Recreation to increase recreational activities for our youth (e.g., intramural sports, Science and Technology programs, arts, etc.).
  • Improve the County’s workforce development program.
  • Negotiate with leading healthcare facilities to bring primary and specialty care physicians to the County.
  • Work to rebuild trust in law enforcement and public safety officials.
  • Streamline the process for small businesses to become County vendors.”

How will your administration help residents with the most severe needs such as returning citizens or those unemployed?

“A robust workforce development program is needed to help returning citizens and some unemployed Prince Georgians. The County is unable to attract high-paying employers because of the impression that we do not have the best quality labor force. We must ensure workers have basic skills (i.e., reading, writing and math) to successfully compete for jobs that offer livable wages. We must also work to ensure Prince Georgians can take advantage of apprenticeships and careers that do not require a college education. I am also interested in recruiting industry and trades that the County does not have.”

Is there one characteristic that makes you the most qualified to manage a county of nearly one million people?

“My time in federal service prepared me for the position of County Executive. I served seven years in the United States Air Force. After that, I worked as a federal financial regulator and legal advisor to senior executives, presidential appointees and elected officials. In my final position in the federal government, I managed a federal examination program and investigated fair lending practices in the financial industry. As a federal manager, I was responsible for a multi-million-dollar budget, worked with several other federal agencies, and supervised a team of government employees.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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