Although the June 2022 midterm elections in Maryland are 16 months away, prospective candidates in Prince George’s County can officially begin their campaigns as of Tuesday.
Tonya Sweat of Accokeek became the first person to take advantage by filing her candidacy for county executive, the jurisdiction’s top leader.
“I am new to the political scene. People know me as the big mouth that fights the school system,” Sweat said during an interview. “I wanted to give my community as much time to scrutinize me, question me. Let’s talk.”
There will be plenty of time for conversation with her and potential challengers looking to oversee the state’s second-largest county with 909,000 residents.
The seat may be available if County Executive Angela Alsobrooks runs for the governor.
According to campaign finance reports, the Democratic lawmaker raised more than $827,444 between Jan. 9-13 with a cash balance of more than $1 million.
Alsobrooks could face stiff competition in the Democratic primary such as state Comptroller Peter Franchot, who has a cash balance of $2.2 million.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s second and final four-year term ends January 2023.
In Prince George’s, other elected positions up for grabs in next year’s gubernatorial election include county council seats, state’s attorney, school board and sheriff.
Since Sweat moved to the county nine years ago from Prince William County, Virginia, the hot-button topics on her radar include stormwater management challenges in the area known as “South County,” small businesses denied grants, and single-family homes built without adequate environmental assessments.
The Orangeburg, South Carolina, native marks education as one of her biggest passions. She served as former PTA president at Oxon Hill High School and vice president for advocacy on the Maryland PTA.
Sweat, an attorney who manages her own consulting firm, understands potential challengers and some residents may question her knowledge of Prince George’s because she isn’t from the county.
But she does have supporters.
“Her abilities to increase accountability in the county’s struggling school system will resolve several current problems within the Prince George’s County school board and management,” Jane Taylor Thomas, president and CEO of the South County Economic Development Association Inc, said in a statement. “Her legal and ethical experiences at the federal, state and local level will enable her to accomplish the goals and objectives of a successful county.”
Sweat serves as the group’s vice president.
To check on candidate filings in Prince George’s, go to www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/969/Candidate-Filing.