BY RYAN CARBO — The City of Hyattsville’s 35th mayor, Candace B. Hollingsworth, is the first African American and the second woman to hold the office.

Candace Hollingsworth
Candace Hollingsworth

Hollingsworth was elected to the position on Tuesday, May 5, with a total of 1,055 votes after running an unopposed campaign. She has served Hyattsville as a city council representative for Ward 1 since 2011 and as the president of the Council since 2013.

Her 2015 campaign platform priorities included planning and investing in Hyattsville’s future, delivering city services to every neighborhood in the city, and building a culture of openness and accountability.

“Openness and transparency seems to be a buzzword in politics, but it means exactly what it says. It’s about having clear lines of communication between residents, city staff, and elected officials,” she said. “Residents like to know that their concerns are heard — and not just heard, that there’s action taken.”

Hailing from Memphis, Tenn., and raised in a working class family, Hollingsworth and her husband moved to Hyattsville in 2009. She viewed the move as an opportunity to espouse diversity, she said.

Much like her predecessor, Marc Tartaro, whose attention to civic issues and community amenities was honored during the May 18 reception for city-elected officials,  Hollingsworth has expressed her commitment not only to maintain, but to improve upon the services and accommodations the city provides, especially those that support the arts.

With a special focus on investing in the future of Hyattsville, she plans to leverage her background in nonprofit financial consultation. Hollingsworth says she aims to strengthen the city’s reputation, not only through financial stability, but also by encouraging the city’s “creative and entrepreneurial spirit,” according to her website.

That means considering residential amenities and determining “how [the city] can recruit or attract people who provide [those resources],” she said. “… it’s also good to have a sense of what it is that your residents desire, and try to fill the gaps wherever possible.”

Hollingsworth also plans to make communication easier between the city government and the community it serves. The city of Hyattsville has to listen to the unique needs of the community so that it can provide the quality of service that she intends, Hollingsworth said.

“One of the things I’ve heard over the past four years is that people feel that their complaints go into a black hole,” said Hollingsworth. “People feel disconnected in some way … [to fix that] that requires mayor and council to be a little bit more proactive in communicating with our residents.”