LANDOVER – On an early Saturday morning, two candidates who are vying to become Prince George’s County’s next sheriff showed up eager to share their platforms with potential voters.
Sylvester Jones and Kendal Wade were seated next to each other at the front of a spacious room tucked inside of The Mercy Grace Center in Landover. The candidates answered questions about implementing their prospective plans of action to make Prince George’s County a safer, better place
Shawn Maldon, founder of The Maldon Brand, a small business development organization, sponsored and hosted the forum. Maldon wants to be known for creating a business that believes in community involvement and giving back. He said hosting free monthly events for the community is one way he accomplishes these core company goals.
Maldon said he extended invitations to candidates for sheriff, including incumbent Sheriff Melvin High, Anthony Ayers, Sylvester Jones and current deputy sheriff Kendal Wade. However, Jones and Wade were the only two candidates who accepted Maldon’s invitation.
Jones said he has lived in Prince George’s County for 22 years. Child safety and school security, domestic violence awareness, helping youth move away from violent habits, and prioritizing criminal warrants are among the top issues on the polished candidate’s to-do list.
“When it comes to taking care of resources and training of people, I think this county won’t get any better candidate than Sylvester Jones, being me,” Jones said. “So one of my slogans is, ‘I’m the right candidate, at the right time, for all the right reasons,’ and I say that for a number of reasons. I am the only candidate with 27 years of experience.”
Wade also highlighted his experience in making his case.
“I have been doing this for seven years. I am the only candidate in the race – including the incumbent – who has been in every single division in the Sheriff’s Office. I know the needs of every division,” he said. “I represent the interest of over 22,000 people, and I have a staff of 34 with two interns.”
Jones’s accomplishments include being the first African-American law enforcement officer in the U.S. Marshal’s Service, which handles the witness protection program, to be promoted from within the ranks to the Senior Executive Tier. He also helped other countries set up their own protection programs for witnesses. During his diverse career, he has had a plethora of experience executing and formulating budgets upwards of one billion dollars.
Jones, who believes in sharing information and working together to get a job done, also serves on the board of directors and two committees with People for Change Coalition, a non-profit and membership organization. He is also a 25-year Army veteran.
Jones also said he wants to be visible in the community as well as partner with police and educators to share information. While making it clear that he wants to continue to serve the public, another objective that he would like to meet is to start a county-wide mentoring program for youth.
Wade, who touts the slogan, ‘more service and less politics,’ chairs a statewide Public Safety Caucus for the Young Democrats of Maryland, designed to bridge the gap between public safety, the community and the legislature.
Domestic violence legislation, gun violence, illegal guns, and the overarching issue of equity are among Wade’s top issues. He mentioned his desire to better incorporate resources from nonprofits and others in the community who may adopt schools as a part of the plan to fix things. Wade said the time has arrived to do something different, such as policing with the community. The candidate also wants to bring the first Scared Straight program to Prince George’s County, which would be run by the Sherriff’s Office.
He said his youth will be an asset in helping steer the county’s young people down the right path.
“What we’re going to do basically is redirect the pipeline. We want our children to be able to go to college, and get good jobs, and not go from high school to Upper Marlboro DOC (Department of Corrections). So I have an extensive background working with at-risk youth. Being a person not far from their generation, they look up to me. They understand that they too can make it out of their situation,” Wade said.