HYATTSVILLE – Twelve people are vying for votes from Hyattsville residents across all five wards, and while they all have very different visions for the city, they share a commonality. They all have a dream for Hyattsville and high goals for its future. Every seat on the Hyattsville City Council was full on April 19 […]
HYATTSVILLE – Twelve people are vying for votes from Hyattsville residents across all five wards, and while they all have very different visions for the city, they share a commonality.
They all have a dream for Hyattsville and high goals for its future.
Every seat on the Hyattsville City Council was full on April 19 as each of the 12 candidates came to share their big ideas at the candidate forum hosted by the city’s teen advisory council and the Hyattsville Life & Times.
At the forum, every candidate had the opportunity to answer several questions posed to him or her by the moderators. Topics included why they decided to run, how they would handle community development and fears of gentrification, their thoughts on Hyattsville’s capital improvements issues, parking, discord between council members, and when issues should go to referendum.
Although one seat is up in each of the five wards, only three members of the council are seeking reelection. Both Ward 5’s Ruth Ann Frazier and Ward 3’s Patrick Paschall are stepping down, while Ward 1 Councilman Bart Lawrence, Ward 2 Councilman Robert Croslin (who is running unopposed) and Ward 4’s Edouard Haba are all seeking reelection.
“Using my leadership in council, I hope to build on the momentum that has allowed the city to thrive, thus far,” Lawrence said, saying he hopes to focus on smart growth, fiscal responsibility and the health of the city.
That leaves nine new faces running for Wards 1, 3, 4 and 5, with three new candidates each for Wards 3 and 5.
Overwhelmingly, the council hopefuls said they joined the race to make a difference in their communities, open up communication amongst residents and because they “wanted to be one of those making the decisions.”
Talib Karim, running in Ward 1, said he has not heard from his councilman since the last election, while Ian Herron, running in the same ward, said he wants to run to increase the workforce development programs in the city while fighting for socioeconomic justice, using his campaign slogan “Woke in Ward 1.”
Vinni Anandham, Ayanna Shivers and Carrianna Suiter are all running for the open Ward 3 seat. Suiter said she is running to help the city continue to be nurturing and supportive. Anadham said she wants to focus on helping disadvantaged residents and “represent young people,” while Shivers said she is running to focus on quality of life issues and smart development.
Over in Ward 4, Shirley Bender hopes to unseat Haba with a focus on a long list of community issues that she hopes to work on with her residents.
“This is my second time running for city council,” she said, explaining she previously ran in Ward 3. “So here I am again and I’m representing Ward 4 and I’ve started campaigning in my Ward. It’s challenging because my neighbors want to know ‘what are you going to do for us?’”
Ward 5 is another race with three candidates seeking an open seat. Derrika Durant, Erica Spell and Ben Zeitler each mentioned keeping an eye on new development near the West Hyattsville Metro, though Spell said she would like to focus on enhancing public safety, Durant wants to focus on education issues and Zeitler said his unhappiness with the federal government has inspired him to be “part of the solution” in his local area.
All 12 candidates answered every question before them, often leaving the last speaker in each round with nothing left to add to the conversations, but not a single candidate came to the forum without unique ideas and perspectives.
Candidates suggested asking residents to volunteer their time and talents to help the city cut down on capital improvements costs, creating a city minimum wage, and building a number of parking garages across the city to address parking needs.
Generally, the forum remained respectful with no personal accusations or attacks, although Karim, who did make some personal attacks, was asked by audience members to “stop yelling” when he answered his questions.
Though voices were low, passions were high in the room. One of those passions candidates had were ideas of rent stabilization and affordable living to make sure that longtime Hyattsville residents are not priced out as development in the city continues.
“Economic diversity is one of those things that attracted our family to Hyattsville,” Suiter said. “But at the time as families like mine move to Hyattsville, I think its important that we ensure that those residents that have been here a long time can continue to afford to live here.”
“We can, as a council, push and advise our developers to work toward that affordable housing component,” Zeitler said.