New City Council sworn in, departing councilmembers honored
By KRISSI HUMBARD — Monday night’s city council meeting marked the changing of the guard: three newly elected councilmembers were sworn in, as well as three incumbents who were re-elected, and council bid farewell to two outgoing councilmembers.
Councilmembers Shani Warner and Tom Wright sat their final council meeting. Warner had served eight years as a Ward 2 councilmember, while Wright served four years as a Ward 3 councilmember.
City Administrator Tracey Douglas, speaking on behalf of city staff, thanked the two departing councilmembers. “We have really enjoyed working with both of you. We appreciate your leadership and counsel. … You all have been tremendous partners to work for and to work with.”
Wright and Warner each used their time during council dialogue to thank staff, colleagues and residents — and show a bit of their personality.
Wright used his time to recite an original poem, touching on all aspects of council from serving residents to thanking fellow councilmembers and department heads, and calling his decision to step down “bittersweet.”
Warner started her comments saying, “I’m going to try to be uncharacteristically brief,” to chuckles from the dais. “I just want to say, I’m so proud of the progress we’ve made in the community in the last eight years. We’ve come a really long way and I’m particularly proud of the team that we’ve assembled. It’s our staff; you see us a lot in the community but really it’s our staff that is the backbone of Hyattsville. They’re the ones who run the city and, to the extent that you ever appreciate the things that we do, it’s because they are making us look good. I’ve been so lucky and privileged to be part of the collective work. It’s a joy — not always a pleasure — but a deep, deep privilege and I feel honored to have been entrusted with this position for eight years.”
She added that she’d be cheering on the new council from the sidelines. But, she ended with a bit of a warning: “I plan to be engaged and I plan to be a very assertive constituent. So you will all hear from me.”
During council dialogue, councilmembers also chimed in to thank the departing members, who both have a reputation for long, but well-thought, questions and comments.
“I just wanted to thank both of you, Tom and Shani, for the service you have provided to the city and to your residents. I think your diligence and attention to details have helped us take the city and the conversation to a different level,” Council President Edouard Haba said.
Mayor Candace Hollingsworth joked that Wright was concerned that residents thought he asked too many questions. “While we acknowledge that Tom asks many questions, he asks questions for the benefits of his constituents and for the benefit of himself. … In doing that, you have truly served your constituents and the city overall very well.”
She then turned to Warner, saying, “we started this together in 2011.” Hollingsworth also addressed Warner’s thoughtfulness. “I appreciate that when I see Ms. Warner’s hand go up, I know that there is something important that she wants to say and communicate.”
The mayor also joked about Warner’s sometimes lengthy comments — “nine minutes, I think is the record?” but added that every time Warner spoke, “it’s always been information that we’ve needed to hear, a point that we’ve needed to consider.”
After the meeting adjourned sine die, council prepped for the swearing-in of the new and returning members.
The Honorable Mahasin El Amin, clerk of the Circuit Court of Prince George’s County, administered the Oath of Office to the newly elected councilmembers. Incumbent Candace Hollingsworth was sworn in as mayor of Hyattsville; Kevin Ward was sworn in as the re-elected Ward 1 councilmember; newcomer Danny Schaible was sworn in as the Ward 2 councilmember; new member Ben Simasek was sworn in as the Ward 3 councilmember; newcomer Daniel Peabody was sworn in as Ward 4 councilmember; and Joseph Solomon was sworn in as the re-elected Ward 5 councilmember.
Council also had to choose a new president and vice president at the meeting. Councilmember Ward was elected as council president and Councilmember Suiter was elected as vice president.
Before adjourning, the new councilmembers talked about their eagerness to learn from the more senior councilmembers and gratitude to be serving the city and its residents.