Prince George’s Co. primary: New faces coming to county council; 2 legislative districts headed for recounts

Elections officials in Prince George’s County have finished counting the votes from the July 19 primary, and while results won’t be certified until next month, a picture of what the new county council could look like is emerging.

However, several new faces, including an activist believed to have been targeted in a redistricting plan upended by the courts, could steer the council in a whole new direction if elected in the general election this fall.

In District 7, which includes Capitol Heights, Marlow Heights, Suitland and Temple Hills, Krystal Oriadha’s trouncing of incumbent Rodney Streeter was noticed throughout the county. She could become the first openly LGBTQ member the council has ever had. Also, it’s likely that five of the 11 seats on the council will be held by Black women.

Oriadha faces Republican Gary Falls in November.

Among political watchers in the county, there’s a strong belief that a map that was later overturned by the judicial system was drawn in a way to keep Oriadha from challenging Streeter. Oriadha lost to Streeter by just 31 votes in a crowded primary in 2018.

The current tally has her up by about 3,500 votes.

“Being a local activist, she had that extra motivation,” said William Ford of The Washington Informer, who called her win “dominant.”

“Those voters in that particular area wanted change and they got it,” he added.

Should Oriadha prevail against Falls, she would finish the primary with more than 700 votes more than the other two Democrats and her Republican opponent combined. She’ll be joined on the new council by a number of new members:

  • Wanika Fisher in District 2;
  • Eric Olson in District 3;
  • Ingrid Harrison in District 4, and
  • Wala Blegay in District 6.

Incumbents Jolene Ivey in District 5, and Tom Dernoga in District 1, both ran unopposed. Ed Burroughs in District 8, Sydney Harrison in District 9 and at-large members Calvin Hawkins and Mel Franklin also cruised to re-election.

Olson, who also served two terms in the District 3 seat in the early 2000s, helped lead the fight against the new county council maps, believing that he was also targeted by a faction of Democrats who take a different approach to governing.

Now, a more progressively activist wing of the council appears to be growing in numbers.

“There could be enough votes to change the dynamic of leadership,” said Ford. “As council chair you get to pretty much set the agenda. Obviously you have to get the votes for certain policy, but you can set the agenda. And usually when you set the agenda you get to lead what will be presented, discussed, voted on in a certain period of time.”

That dynamic will be closely watched once the new council takes their seats.

“You could see, in the beginning, a lot of kumbaya, very relaxed, ‘Let’s get together and assess what we can do and what we can’t do,’” said Ford.

But he also warned that things could quickly get less harmonious if progress on certain issues such as police reform doesn’t come as quick as some would like.

Recounts likely in 2 legislative district races

Meanwhile, the vote counting is done but some races could be heading for recounts.

The results in the 23rd and 24th legislative districts are extremely close. Both of those are the Maryland General Assembly districts with three legislative seats, but the fourth-place finishers are within 0.25% of the top three.

Upper Marlboro’s Jocelyn Collins told WTOP she’s considering asking for a recount in the 23rd District, where she’s fewer than 20 votes behind Kym Taylor, who finished in third place.

The other two seats were won by incumbent Del. Marvin Holmes and Bowie City Council member Adrian Boafo.

In the 24th District, LaTasha Ward told WTOP she will ask for a recount in the race, where she finished around 0.20% behind the top three.

Christopher Stevenson, who placed fifth in the 24th District, is also close enough to ask for a recount. He said he’s undecided about what he’ll do.

Right now, the top three vote-getters in the 24th District are incumbent delegates Jazz Lewis and Andrea Fletcher Harrison, as well as Tiffany Alston, who won a seat in Annapolis in 2010. She was later indicted on charges of improperly using campaign money and removed from office. This is her third attempt at elected office since then.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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