For someone who has not publicly announced her political plans, former congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) sure sounded like a candidate for Prince George’s county executive Wednesday morning.
Speaking to a friendly crowd at a union hall in Landover, Edwards touched on all the flash points that are emerging as issues for voters in the 2018 race, including the embattled school system, economic development and responsive governance.
She described being stopped recently at a pharmacy by a woman who said changes to trash pickup schedules left her with an overflowing garbage can for days after a family cookout.
“It seems like a really tiny thing,” Edwards said. “But when elected leadership doesn’t understand how people live their lives and provide the basic kinds of services, the little things can start to get on your nerves. If she . . . believes that I can do something about picking up her trash, then she will trust me to do the stuff that’s really hard.”
Upon seeing a reporter in the crowd, Edwards told her audience that she would not have anything to say Wednesday about her political future. Through an aide, she declined requests for an interview.
But a friend, former Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin, said Edwards is considering a run for county executive but is weighing polling and other data before making her decision.
A group of activists in Prince George’s has been urging Edwards to enter the race since late April.
If she runs, Edwards — who lost a bitter U.S. Senate primary race last year to fellow congressman Chris Van Hollen — would be competing in the Democratic primary against state Sen. C. Anthony Muse, a political ally. County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks (D) is also expected to announce her candidacy in the coming weeks. County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who is term-limited, is running for governor.
“We want to be a part of whatever decision [Edwards] makes,” said Dyana Forester, political director for the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which hosted Wednesday morning’s event at the Local 400 headquarters. “If Donna does run for county executive, we will definitely support her.”
Edwards spent more than 40 minutes speaking to the audience of about 50 political, labor and community activists about demanding more from developers who want to build on county-owned land, “standing up” to President Trump on health care, creating a county-level “sanctuary” for undocumented immigrants and providing more economic opportunities for people who have been released from prison.
“Here in this county of such great opportunity and great capacity . . . we have to be about having elected leaders who want to realize that capacity, who understand the promise of what we are and the challenges that we face, and are willing to take them on,” Edwards said. “So I’ve been thinking about some of those things, and what I might be able to contribute.”
Edwards disclosed in a recent op-ed in The Washington Post that she has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She said Wednesday that it was difficult to write so publicly about her situation but that she wanted to personalize the national debate over health-care coverage in hopes of having an impact.
“We need a system that’s affordable,” Edwards said. “I’m not the only one out there with a preexisting condition.”