New faces, ideas, personalities aim to shake up Prince George’s Co. council

Five new members have been sworn in as members of the Prince George’s County, Maryland, Council.

While District 3’s Eric Olson might be considered new, he has also served two terms on the council in the past. Joining him are Ingrid Harrison, Wala Blegay, Wanika Fisher and Krystal Oriadha.

“I think the tone is really going to be one of excitement and eagerness to get ready to work,” said Oriadha. “Sometimes the council can be slow to move, everyone needs to be acclimated; but you have so many diverse voices, people that have been in advocacy space, either in the lobbying space, they’ve been working for labor unions, a lot of people that just know what they’re doing.”

She expects a lot of bills and legislation to be written and debated, even when a lot of the issues that new members face are not very new.

After her swearing-in ceremony, Fisher said she plans to emphasize crime and improved community policing in the second district, citing a need for more bilingual officers in an area she said struggles with gang activity. District 2 includes Hyattsville, Langley Park, and her neighborhood of Lewisdale.

“A lot of these issues around crime come with early support,” Fisher said.

“We struggle a lot with early day care and child care support and help for young mothers,” Fisher said.

“Community-based development is probably No. 1,” said Oriadha, when asked what issues will be among her priorities.

Asked a similar question, Blegay said, “We’re looking to bring transit-oriented development” to the sixth district, which spans the central part of the county and includes a chunk of the “Blue Line corridor” the county will be emphasizing.

“We’ve had a lot of issues with development over the past,” Blegay noted, referring to zoning battles that left residents frustrated with county leaders.

Oriadha, who is the first openly LGBTQ member of the council, echoed Blegay in calling for more transit-oriented development, bringing higher densities to land near Metro stations.

Sydney Harrison, who spent the last year serving as the vice-chair of the county council, said he’s optimistic and excited about the new perspectives they might bring.

“I look forward to really hearing some of the priorities they’d like to see and how we as a county council, a legislative branch, have the opportunity to work on those things together,” Harrison said.

Asked in particular what they might bring to the table, he said, “Fresh ideas. Really looking at how we can become innovative as a legislative branch and creating the opportunity to create the equity and access right here in Prince George’s County for all Prince Georgians.”

The first order of business when the council gathers on Tuesday morning will be the “Exchange of Gavel,” where council Chairman Calvin Hawkins hands the gavel to the new chair.

WTOP has learned that the new chair is expected to be District 5’s Jolene Ivey.

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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