The Hyattsville Life & Times (HL&T) reached out to all candidates registered to run in the city’s 2022 Ward 2 special election, to fill the vacant councilmember seat previously held by Mayor Robert Croslin. You’ll find their statements in this section, listed alphabetically by last name. 

Election day is Oct. 4. City of Hyattsville residents age 16 and older are eligible to vote, regardless of immigration status. Residents can register in person on the day of the election at the Hyattsville’s Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street. 

Registered voters who receive mail-in ballots may vote by mail or deliver their ballots to drop boxes at the Hyattsville Municipal Building or Driskell Park, 3911 Hamilton Street.

KELLY BURRELLO 

Age: I am comfortably over 50.

Day Job: For the past 22 years of my career, I have been a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion practitioner. I design and facilitate DEI training and other peace and conflict resolution interventions for private organizations, local, state and federal government agencies, and schools, to name a few. Currently, I am full-time technical assistance staff with the American Institutes for Research (AIR). I believe and practice AIR’s mission: to generate and use rigorous evidence that contributes to a better, more equitable world.

Community Involvement: Volunteering and donating to causes that matter to me remain my lifelong mission, among which includes Food & Friends, youth empowerment, advocacy for senior citizens and animal rights. I’m most proud of the annual Ward 2 block party that Lance (my husband) and I have hosted since we moved here in 2017. It’s a fun way to bring our neighbors together in fellowship. Through these events, we are comforted to know that we live in a community with so many others who are selfless givers. 

Statement to Voters: I’m running for Ward 2 city council because I am politically, socially, culturally and economically invested in Hyattsville, Ward 2. Lance and I have made Hyattsville our forever home, so I feel responsible for contributing to the success of the city. In addition, I’m running for the Ward 2 council because I have the right skills required for the role. I’ve earned a professional and personal reputation as an action-oriented connector and bridge builder. As a trained mediator, I have sharpened my listening, critical thinking, compromise and problem-solving skills. Most importantly, I speak with my neighbors, and I have learned that many of us are equally aligned on what community means to us, and what we want for Hyattsville. Honestly, I don’t know all that awaits me as a Ward 2 council person, but I am confident that I have the necessary skills and authenticity to make this a community a place where we all can be proud to say we live.  

LISBETH MELENDEZ RIVERA 

Age: 56

Day Job: I am a full-time student seeking my doctorate of ministry for theology and social transformation, and at 56 years of age, I continue to learn from people, both old and young, how to be a better person. I hope to be an amplifier of community voices, and I will work as hard as possible to be representative of the community and the betterment of the city we ultimately call home. 

Community Involvement: In the City of Hyattsville, I coordinate the pickleball pick-up league operating out of Driskell Park, a group I helped launch after advocating for the court creation. 

Outside of Hyattsville, I just ended a four-year term as a student representative for United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, where I attend remotely. There, I helped give voice to students and worked with the administration around curricula and student aid. 

I am an active member of the League of United Latin American Citizens, UNIDOS US, the LGBTQ+ Task Force, The National Organization for Women (national and local), and Call to Action, a progressive Catholic movement. 

I am a member of these Boards of Directors: 

UCC Proyecto Bienvenida — member

UCC Open and Affirming Coalition — member

The Freedom Center — Building Justice Movements in the DMV

Waves Ahead PR, Inc — The Aging: LGBTQ+ Organization of Puerto Rico — chair

Statement to Voters: My name is Lisbeth Melendez Rivera. I am running for city council, representing Ward 2.

I decided to run for Hyattsville City Council’s Ward 2 because I believe all politics are local. When democracy is threatened by forces inside and outside our spheres of influence, we must work within our sphere to create a world where equity and justice are our primary focus. 

Our students deserve an excellent education. An education that leans into their strengths in today’s competitive industries.

Our residents deserve affordable housing. I will work to balance new residents and new housing with affordable units through a strong community presence and increased communication with the county will help Hyattsville remain the haven that it is.

EMILY STRAB

Age: 37

Day Job: I am a music teacher, and I also act as the enrollment director at the high school where I teach. I began my teaching career in Prince George’s County Public Schools and have taught many Hyattsville students in their homes and mine. I’ve taught students from age 0 to 70+. My job as enrollment director is primarily about communication and building relationships with people from diverse backgrounds and making sure they feel at home in our school. 

Community Involvement: For over seven years I have been running Ward 2’s longest running neighborhood watch group, which means planning the meetings, moderating our listserv, and planning our block parties. I use the list to try to connect neighbors with the resources they need, like those available from Hyattsville Aging in Place or the city. I’m currently serving my second term on the city’s Police and Public Safety Committee, one as vice chair. Additionally, I’ve served the community by coaching T-ball, administering babysitting co-ops, organizing meal trains, writing and volunteering on the board of the Hyattsville Life & Times, or just cleaning up at the park. 

Statement to Voters: Since 2007, My husband, our children, and I have called Hyattsville home and feel very fortunate to have discovered the loving, welcoming community that is Hyattsville. As an educator and long-time city volunteer, I want to bring my experience as a listener, problem-solver, and cooperator to the city council. I feel strongly that we elect councilmembers not only to lead and problem-solve, but most definitively to represent. I am committed to representing the concerns of my neighbors on council and making those concerns take priority — YOU set the agenda. As the candidate with the most experience with volunteering with the city and who has worked with city council and staff, and with a track record of service to my community, I believe that I am the best equipped to take on the responsibilities as councilmember. My neighbors know that I am a person that they can depend upon and I want to deliver upon that trust. Please contact me: emilystrabforhyattsville@gmail.com, 240.706.7607, or emilystrabforhyattsville.com.