By James Wright, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
Mel Franklin has represented District 9 on the Prince George’s County Council for the past eight years. He wants the voters of the county to give him another four years so he can continue his work.
“I believe in Prince George’s County,” Franklin told the AFRO. “I love its exceptional diversity and I have invested my life and family in this county and I want to work to make it a greater place.”
Franklin is a candidate for one of the two newly created at-large county council seats. He is running against a colleague, Prince George’s County Council member Karen Toles (D-District 7), and other candidates including Gerron Levi, Calvin Hawkins, Juanita Culbreath-Miller, Melvin B. Johnson, Julian Lopez, Reginald Tyer, and Jonathan White for one of the two spots for the Democratic Party nomination.
The Democratic Party primary is June 26. The two top Democrats will face Republican Felicia Folarin for the two at-large county council positions in the Nov. 6 general election.
Franklin is a native of rural South Carolina and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina and a juris doctorate from Duke University. He was involved in Prince George’s County Democratic clubs before he ran for the District 9 county council seat in 2010.
Since his election to the county’s legislative body, Franklin has been voted chair by his colleagues twice and has passed 100 pieces of legislation dealing with a wide range of issues including helping minority and small businesses getting county contracts and the summer youth jobs program.
Franklin represents District 9, an area that consists of Joint Andrews Air Force Base, suburbs such as Fort Washington, Clinton, Camp Springs, and Accokeek and rural/exurbs such as Eagle Harbor, Brandywine and Aquasco. The district is 74.8 percent Black according to the 2010 census.
As a countywide member, Franklin would represent the 912,756 residents, as of a 2017 census estimate, and would speak for predominantly Black Capitol Heights, Forest Heights, and Suitland as well as racially-mixed Greenbelt, College Park, Laurel, and Hyattsville.
Franklin considered running for county executive this year but opted out of that race.
If elected, Franklin said making the county a desirable destination will be one of his goals. “In this county, we have sectors that deal with health science, hospitality, and federal and state agencies that have fueled our growth,” he said. “National Harbor has done very well and we are excited about the new regional hospital and the immigrant center showing that we are the place to be in this region.”
Franklin said the county is undergoing a transformation from what was once a predominantly White, rural enclave 50 years ago, to a Black urban and suburban jurisdiction and said its status as a bedroom community to the District of Columbia is changing. “Residents want jobs in the county and they want to shop and entertain in the county, not go somewhere else,” he said.
Franklin said he wants to continue his push to get “small and minority-owned businesses to be part of the success” of the county.
He also wants the county government to invest in its residents with programs that benefit seniors and youth. “They took care of us and therefore we should take care of them,” he said of seniors.