Council absences delay Wingard’s swearing-in, cancel Council meeting
BY SUSIE CURRIE — Newly minted Ward 1 representative Eric Wingard, who won a special city election on July 19, had expected to take his seat on the dais during the August 1 city council meeting.
But it was canceled when half of the members didn’t show up. It was the first time in at least a decade that a Hyattsville City Council meeting failed to draw a quorum of six members.
“Without a quorum, the council cannot conduct business,” said Council President Matt McKnight (Ward 3), who had been scheduled to run the 8 p.m. meeting but instead called it off at around 8:30 p.m.
The meeting agenda – which included Wingard’s swearing in, reports from five city departments and the authorization of several contracts and expenditures – will have to be incorporated into the one for August 8.
“This is embarrassing,” said Councilmember Tim Hunt (Ward 3) afterwards, one of five members in attendance.
Some absences were expected. Mayor Marc Tartaro had asked McKnight to chair the meeting the week before, as he had a family medical appointment that night. Shani Warner (Ward 2) had delivered a baby the day before. Paula Perry (Ward 4) was traveling.
“When 8 p.m. rolled around and Carlos [Lizanne, Ward 4] and Nicole [Hinds Mofor, Ward 5] did not show up, we began making phone calls,” said McKnight. When reached, Lizanne said he was ill; Mofor, reached by the HL&T later that week, also said she wasn’t feeling well.
“I was disappointed, but more surprised than anything,” said Wingard, who had invited family and friends to the ceremony. “Maybe the swearing-in could have been done at last week’s meeting, if people knew they were going to be out, and then I could have been the sixth member for the quorum.”
Instead, he had to go to Upper Marlboro later that week to take the oath of office at the Prince George’s County clerk’s office. He was scheduled to be seated at the August 8 city council meeting.
In the July special election, Wingard captured 65 of 128 votes cast in a race with William Jenne and Scott Matirne. The seat was previously held by Tartaro, who was elected mayor in May.