Democrat Edward Burroughs III campaigns in Oxon Hill, Md., on Nov. 19, 2021. (Craig Hudson for The Washington Post)

Former Prince George’s County school board member Edward Burroughs III, a Democrat and vocal critic of the county’s political establishment, soundly defeated his competitors in a special primary election for a seat representing District 8 on the county council.

Burroughs, a leader of an increasingly influential generation of young liberal leaders in the county, won 72 percent of the votes cast, according to unofficial results posted Thursday afternoon. Former county council member Tony Knotts, who had the backing of several more-moderate incumbent council members, came in second, with 15 percent.

“The campaign was absolutely amazing because a lot of my supporters voted for me when I was 18 and remember it,” said Burroughs, referring to his election to the school board. “They have watched and supported me through thick and thin.”

Election officials in coming weeks will continue to count provisional ballots and conduct a second canvas for ballots that were postmarked before Jan. 4 but have not yet been delivered. A special general election — which, like the primary, will be conducted mostly by mail — is scheduled for Feb. 1. As of Thursday afternoon, 5,561 ballots had been counted. There are 55,699 registered Democrats in the district, which includes Fort Washington, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills and Camp Springs.

Burroughs held a commanding lead in the six-way race Thursday, and primaries in deep-blue Prince George’s tend to be decisive, likely clearing the way for him to replace Monique Anderson-Walker on the dais. She resigned from the council in November to focus on her campaign as Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot’s running mate in the 2022 gubernatorial race. Burroughs announced his candidacy the same day.

Burroughs, 29, would be one of the youngest council members to serve on the body. He said he decided to run because he wanted to focus not only on education but on issues including housing, the economy and criminal justice.

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Larry Stafford, president of Progressive Maryland, a powerful grass-roots group that backed Burroughs, said he sees the victory as a sign that voters are frustrated with the status quo — including the council’s recent decision to approve a redistricting map that was slammed by more than 150 residents in public testimony.

That decision, backed by a majority of the council, removed three liberal politicians from the districts in which they were considering campaigning — or had already started running. It also deepened divides between the county’s generally moderate Democratic establishment and more liberal leaders.

As a school board member, Burroughs, who lives in Temple Hills and is the legislative affairs director in the office of State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy (D), has sometimes been a polarizing figure, unafraid to criticize either County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) or her predecessor, Rushern L. Baker (D).

Angela Alsobrooks came into office vowing to depoliticize education. It hasn’t worked.

Burroughs’s critics have accused him of seeking the media spotlight instead of working through issues with his colleagues. He said he is committed to working with all council members, including those who did not support him.

Last year, a report by an ethics commission accused Burroughs and other school board members in his bloc of steering contracts, doing political favors and engaging in a quid pro quo with a labor union. Burroughs and the other members disputed the findings, which they pointed out contained numerous errors and said were part of a campaign to oust them.

Burroughs said he plans to “fight every day to do what is right by the people of Prince George’s.” One of the things Burroughs said he was most struck by as he knocked on doors during the campaign was the number of seniors who are struggling financially in the county, many because of issues related to the nearly two-year pandemic.

Among his top priorities, Burroughs said, will be “working on issues that uplift working people.”

Burroughs said he plans to run for reelection in the June 2022 primary, when all the council seats will be up for election. Knotts, a Vietnam War veteran from Oxon Hill who served on the council from 2002 until 2010, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. He has filed to run in the June 2022 primary.