HYATTSVILLE – The city council Ward 5 race is taking off as three candidates have already registered for the special election race. Patricia Stamper, an employee of the District of Columbia Public Schools, Eric Tagne, who works in D.C. law enforcement and Ruth Frazier, a past employee of the Central Intelligence Agency and a Hyattsville […]
HYATTSVILLE – The city council Ward 5 race is taking off as three candidates have already registered for the special election race.
Patricia Stamper, an employee of the District of Columbia Public Schools, Eric Tagne, who works in D.C. law enforcement and Ruth Frazier, a past employee of the Central Intelligence Agency and a Hyattsville council member for 16 years, have thrown their hats into the ring and started their campaigns for the open position on the city council. The special election will take place on September 12.
Ward 5, defined as the southwest area of Hyattsville, holds nearly 2,000 registered voters and houses the West Hyattsville Metro, apartment complexes, an Aldi grocery store, and many small businesses. The area is also undergoing a safety project to improve the lighting on streets and sidewalks, which was introduced by Ward 5 councilmember Joseph Solomon.
Stamper, who moved to Hyattsville four years ago, said she thinks of Hyattsville as a “Snuggie” – warm and inviting and the best of both worlds.
“I really like Hyattsville,” said Stamper. “I like the fact that I can ride my bike all the way down Hamilton Avenue and see all the cool stuff or I can go to the movies or I can walk to the store. I can walk to Aldi or I can catch the metro if I need to. I like it because it’s far enough away from the city, but it still has a type of country feel to it at the same time.”
Tagne, who moved to the area from Cameroon, Africa in 2007, said he loves Hyattsville for many of the same reasons.
“It is a little bit like a suburb of Washington D.C.,” said Tagne. “What I really like about Hyattsville is that it is very quiet, especially the area where I live. One reason I don’t live in D.C. is that it’s very congested, very small. Hyattsville is really close to D.C. and really diverse.”
Frazier grew up in Hyattsville, raised her children in the city, and has grandchildren who grew up in the same area she did.
“This was just the perfect community for us and for our family,” said Frazier. “My grandchildren came along and my daughter and her husband settled here, they live just up the street from us, about four or five blocks. My mom lived here until 2005. This is where my heart is.”
Frazier said her family’s three generations of life has more than qualified her for the job on city council. She previously served on the council from 1997 to 2013, when she retired. She said she thought she had enough of the work, but said the council isn’t listening to the residents and she cannot “sit back and criticize.”
“I didn’t want that when I was on the council, so if you don’t want that, do something about it, try to be part of the process,” Frazier said.
Frazier said now was the perfect time to run because it is not against councilmember Solomon and her campaign will not “mess with the vote” for a councilmember whom she said is doing a great job.
“I thought ‘well, why not, why not try?’” said Frazier. “I feel I have experience and the knowledge and maybe I could attempt to enhance the ability of the other elected officials with a little bit of humility. It is in the best interest of the Hyattsville community, to get our act together.”
Stamper said she also felt now is the perfect time to run, despite expecting a child in the coming weeks.
“Having a new-born will be an adjustment, but I work with kids, especially the little ones is my specialty, so I don’t think it will be that hard,” she said. “I believe it’s a good time for me to do it. My schedule allows for it. I have the time. I think it’s time. I’m more comfortable with being able to do it now than I was before.”
Stamper, who ran councilmember Solomon’s campaign for city council, said she doesn’t think having a baby will impede her campaign or her ability to serve the city.
“I’ve traveled the world while I was pregnant,” said Stamper. “I’ve went on a cruise. I’ve gone horseback riding. I didn’t know I was pregnant, but I’ve done a lot and I’m still able to walk, go door-to-door, talk with residents, do meet and greets.”
Stamper said her experience with children will not only prepare her for parenthood, but will strengthen her representation of her ward, especially since the voting age was lowered to 16 in early 2015. She said the children are her focus.
“I really wanted to help the community, like the families,” Stamper said. “There are a lot of families in Ward 5. There are lot of kids and I always felt like if I can help this demographic and focus on that, to connect them, to see they can contribute, they would end up being that 25-year-old voter that actually says, ‘Hey, I care about Hyattsville. I care about my city. I want to help. I want to volunteer.’”
Tagne said his focus is on bringing development to West Hyattsville and said he is disappointed the metro stop area is not as built up as others across the lines. He said he feels the Art’s District and the eastern part of the city receive more attention than the west.
“I would really like to see that area change,” Tagne said. “It’s just, it’s beautiful – a lot of space, a lot of land that is not really exploited. Also the apartment complex where I live, it’s just so old. I would really love to see Hyattsville be a little bit more beautiful, because it has the potential to be beautiful.”
Tagne said if he were elected he would not hold back how he feels, especially on issues he is passionate about, such as the lack of parking around the city, development in Ward 5, and the control of the population growth.
“I may offend some people, but I’m real,” said Tagne. “I would call the cat by its name. I’m not a career politician. I am not running for this because I’m expecting to make a living out of this. I have very decent work. I’m doing this because I just want to contribute as a citizen to the city where I live.”
Frazier said she is running as a voice for the people. She said she has always listened to what the residents want and though she “can’t always give it to them,” she is always willing to listen, which she said is something the council doesn’t necessarily do.
“They’re talking sidewalks in University Hills,” Frazier said. “Not everybody wants sidewalks and you have to come up with a plan – one that pleases everybody. Don’t try to force the residents to do something because you’re messing with their tax dollars. People don’t want that.”
The last day to register as a candidate for the special election is Friday, August 7.