2017 City Council Elections Guide

The Hyattsville Life & Times reached out to all the candidates registered to run for city council in the city’s 2017 municipal elections. You’ll find their statements below. Candidates are listed by ward in alphabetic order.

Ward One

Ian Herron
Age: 30
Day Job: National Special Hiring Authorities, Diversity and Inclusion Programs Manager

I want to work for you! I feel a responsibility to improve the livelihood of the citizenry and will develop great relationships with you because of this passion. I will help people looking for better lives help themselves. I will work with the local artist, the new family in the ward and youth to create policy that will make this city even better through quarterly local events like resume writing workshops and art fairs. We are a growing community and our diversity is the best what of America truly is. Activities like volunteering at the library to tutor English language learners are the perfect opportunity to share ideas on how we can stand strong in support of our status as a sanctuary city; where refugees, immigrants and underrepresented communities are treated with dignity and respect. I will cultivate awareness for proactive engagement by leading a diversity committee and hosting monthly events dedicated to improving the quality of each Ward 1 citizen. My experience includes developing workforce planning strategies and managing programs that promote community and recreation. If voted for city council, we will have the opportunity to better address social-economic justice issues through special employment and community programs aim to empower our youth and underemployed. Win or lose, I am grateful for the opportunity to represent the people’s interest. I look forward to full engagement in intensive discussions, and developing a broader community of experts and advocates for interaction focused on addressing issues and providing solutions for our ward and city. Vote for me and I will work to make our ward the best it can be and the best of what America truly is.

I welcome any Ward 1 citizen to join me on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:15 a.m. for commuter bike rides from the Hyattsville Courthouse to D.C.’s RFK Stadium utilizing our wonderful trail system. You are also invited to meet me outside of DeMatha High School for a walk to the P.G. County Metro station Wednesdays at 8:15 am. We can walk and discuss how to improve public transportation, our parks and the beauty of our ward.

 

Talib I. Karim
Age: 47
Day Job: Attorney and Adjunct Professor at Bowie State University

I ask my neighbors in Ward 1 to elect me to represent them on the Hyattsville City Council.  As their representative, Ward 1 residents and businesses could count on me to keep them updated and seek their input on issues impacting our city. Further, I would bring a new voice of reason and respect to City Hall.

My family moved to Hyattsville six years ago after my wife discovered a wonderful school for our son—DeMatha.  Since then, I have been engaged in numerous efforts to better our city, from serving as a judge for the Hyattsville Elementary Science Fair to launching a civic association to address the needs of local businesses and residents.

On the Council, I would bring over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and business owner.  My work as a Congressional aide overseeing the budgets of the U.S. departments of Justice and Veterans Affairs also prepares me to help manage our city’s revenues and expenses.  As a labor law professor, I would seek to ensure the laws of our city are sensible and just for all.

Additional qualifications:

  • B.S. in mechanical engineering and J.D. from Howard University
  • Advocate for education and vocational training programs
  • Contributing Writer to the Hyattsville Life and Times

Over my life, I have made my share of mistakes.  Yet, I believe that acknowledging and working through them have made a better person. In closing, I take inspiration from my parents, both of whom died when I was young.  They taught my younger siblings and I that working together is winning together. I look forward to working with everyone in Hyattsville to make our city more safe; grow our business corridors; and improve our sidewalks, roads, and parks.

By working together, we all win together.

Talib I. Karim, #TogetherHyattsville

 

Bart Lawrence
Age: 44
Day Job: Proposal Manager, ICF
Community Involvement (a list is fine):

Hyattsville City Council, Ward 1, 2013–Present
Hyattsville Aging In Place, Volunteer, 2013–Present
Hyattsville Middle School PTSO, Vice President, 2016–Present; Secretary, 2015–2016
Hyattsville Elementary School, President, 2010–2014; Secretary, 2009–2010
Friends of the Hyattsville Branch of the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, 2009–2011

Hyattsville is a special community, a place where people with a spectacular variety of backgrounds and interests come together, creating life-long memories and developing strong bonds with their neighbors. And, whether we know each other personally or not, we are all bound to one another through the special compact of our municipal government. It is through this collective arrangement that we discuss and decide upon the policies that affect our lives at the most intimate level outside of our homes, issues such as public works, policing, and education. These local-level decisions are important, and I take my role as one of 10 voices on the Hyattsville City Council seriously, acting with dedication, thoughtfulness, and consideration.

Hyattsville is on a positive path. Over the past four years, we’ve welcomed new neighbors, new business, and new amenities. We’ve experienced record-low crime rates, infrastructure improvements, school improvements, and wonderful civic engagement. But, as it always will, work remains. I am committed to working to ensure sustainable growth, necessary services, and responsible stewardship of the City’s (your) resources (funds).

The City Charter captures in broad terms what I hope to continue to do as your Ward 1 Council Member, which is to ensure the “good governance of the City” and to protect and promote the “health, safety, comfort, convenience, welfare, and happiness of the residents of the City.” In short, as your Ward 1 Council Member, I will continue to work to improve the quality of life for Ward 1 residents and residents throughout the City. I humbly ask for your vote on May 2. Thank you. – Bart

Ward Two

Robert Croslin
Age:
65
Current profession: Goldsmith
Community involvement:

  • Founding member of the Hyattsville Artist Alliance
  • Founding member of Ageing in Place
  • Helped to bring ArtSpin to Hyattsville
  • Started the Breaking Bread Conference
  • Started the Bridging Cultural Gaps Book Club
  • Co-chaired the committee to select a police chief
  • Co-chaired the committee to select a former city administrator
  • Former member of the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation
  • Former member of the Hyattsville Planning Committee
  • Former member of the Shade Tree Board Committee

Neighbors and friends,

For the past four years, I have had the pleasure of serving as your representative on the Hyattsville City Council. Today I am asking for your vote to reelect me as your city councilmember on May 2.

Hyattsville today looks nothing like it did when my family moved here 28 years ago. My wife, Dyann, and I watched our children, Chike and Kigen, grow up here, participating in a multitude of community activities and learning lessons that helped make them the adults they are today. We have watched the Hyattsville community evolve from a sleepy suburb into one of the most exciting communities inside the Beltway, and I am proud to have played a part in the evolution as an engaged resident and as a councilmember.

I have made a point of maintaining my dedication to our community since becoming your councilmember, and want to continue working for Ward 2 and the rest of Hyattsville over the next four years.

 

Ward Three

Vinni Anandham
Age: 23
Day Job: Admissions Counselor
Community Involvement:

  • Volunteer for the AVID program (organization that helps promote 1st generation high school students to attend college)
  • Volunteer at the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple (Hindu Temple)
  • Member of the Latino Democratic Club of Montgomery County that works with all the chapters in the state of Maryland.
  • Co-founded a registered non-profit in the state of Texas called A New Horizon (which worked to help increase job skills for refugees in Dallas, TX so that could obtain sustainable jobs).

Statement to the Voters:

As a first generation Indian-American, I faced challenges when pursuing higher education. Thankfully, my teachers and counselors came to the rescue and because of their guidance, I was selected for a state-funded early college program that allowed me to earn my Associates degree along with my high school diploma. They inspired me to work in Higher Education, so upon receiving my Bachelors’ degree I became an admissions counselor.

Last summer I moved from Texas and after a 22-hour trip, my mother and I were mostly excited about a meal. When searching for restaurants in the area, we found ourselves in Hyattsville. Immediately, I witnessed a celebration on Jefferson Street; a celebration of diversity and world cuisine. I fell in love with the city and the energy of its people. I then moved to an apartment complex nearby the Prince George’s County Mall and have come to love this community, its businesses, and most of all, my friendly neighbors.

I never thought of running for City Council until I met the people in this city. Like any great place, Hyattsville is constantly evolving and with that growth, it’s important for everyone’s voices to be heard. I want to be that voice for all Ward 3 residents, along with increase the representation of young people, and improve the community for our children. I want to hear from you, for which I have planned outreach efforts over the next few weeks. Please feel free to get in touch with me through my website https://www.vinniforward3.com/

Getting elected for city council will not be my victory or success, it will be OUR victory. However, success will come when we work together to take our city to greater heights, which is why I am counting on your vote this May 2nd!

 

Ayanna Shivers
Age34
Day JobDoD Contractor
Community InvolvementI am a member of Hyattsville Horticultural Society, Hyattsville Urban Growers, Riverdale Park Bikram Hot Yoga, Price Georgia’s Hens. I also am a regular at Heurich Dog Park, Hyattsville Farmers Market, and the flea Market at Northwestern High School. I have attended City Council, PG Zoning and Planning meetings.

Statement to Voters:

I was recently inspired to run for City Council because of my neighbors, a diverse collective that ranges in age, culture, and certainly opinions. What I have come to appreciate is the supportive culture built on sharing and working with one another to create a safe, engaged neighborhood.

The rich and meaningful relationships I have cultivated in Hyattsville have inspired me to support and represent my community, which is a wonderful mixture of Hyattsville residents who have been here their whole lives, and those like me, who moved here to start careers and families.

Admittedly, I have no political experience and, up until now, had not considered running for office. But what I do offer is a willingness to roll up my sleeves to do the work required to assure that the values that we hold together are fairly represented..

For more than ten years, I have literally and figuratively planted my roots in Hyattsville. During which, much growth has occurred throughout the city. If elected, I will work to make sure that Ward 3’s concerns and interests are considered as we continue to develop. I will work to build stronger connections and provide a platform for Hyattsville residents to voice opinions and be heard. I will make sure that we are informed and fully engaged on issues that matter.

“Growing Together Stronger” means celebrating our diversity while building on the things we have in common to shape the future of Hyattsville. I will champion efforts that  promote inclusiveness, seek to address real concerns, and foster stronger stronger community involvement.

I humbly ask you for your vote. www.ayanna4ward3.com

Carrianna Suiter
Age: 32
Day Job: Policy Advisor, Universal Services Administrative Company. I help state and local governments expand broadband and telecommunication access in rural and low-income communities.
Community Involvement: Hyattsville Moms (Curious Moms); HySwap Volunteer; Classroom Parent at Nobel Learning Communities

Statement to the Voters:

I live on 41st Ave. with my husband, Jason, and our one-year-old son, Theo. Hyattsville is a wonderful community with amazing people who support each other. As a new mom, I truly appreciate programs like the HySwap, and HNMoms meal deliveries. As someone who cares about environmental sustainability, I appreciate Hyattsville’s innovative pilot programs that provide free rain barrel and composting materials to residents.

I am running for city council because I want to expand these programs to benefit more residents, and find new and innovative ways to help our community thrive, so that Hyattsville continues to be a great place to live and raise a family – with strong schools, safe communities and inclusive local development.

I want to make sure that every family has access to affordable recreational programs and after-school care – services so critical to working parents; that we are attracting the kinds of businesses that bring good jobs, the lifeblood of a strong and vibrant community; and that we continue to welcome residents of all stripes with open arms.

Our community has experienced strong economic growth in recent years; we can do more to ensure all of our residents are benefitting from this development by establishing a summer jobs programs for young people, so they can get a head start towards economic and career success.

I spent the last decade working for President Obama, most recently at the Department of Labor, where I led the Department’s engagement with states and local communities to advance policies that support working families. I want to utilize this knowledge and experience to ensure Hyattsville benefits from all available state and federal resources, and pursue programs that have proven successful in other localities across the country.

Above all, I want to hear from you. How can we make Hyattsville an even better place to live? Please visit www.votecarrianna.com or email me at votecarrianna@gmail.com to share to share your suggestions. Let’s work together grow our vibrant community.

Ward Four

Shirley Bender
Age: I am 70 years old and proud!
Day Job: My employment was with the National Institutes of Health with a total of 36 years of service and retire in 2004.
Community Involvement: Currently employed for the Prince Georges County Board of Elections and to demonstrate my role as an election judge.  Member of AARP of Maryland and with the Foundation where I volunteer in the communities where I engage with health fairs, going to nursing homes, to visit and assist the residents, and  with Americans 50+plus a building social connections.

I am an resident of Hyattsville, where I lived for a total of 23 years.  “I take pride in the community, and I value myself as an people person, as an problem solver, and for the welfare of the people.”  I served as an Block Capital for my neighborhood.   When the community was with Ward 3 and at that time in 2009 for the special elections,  my neighbors suggested I run for City Council and I compliance.”   Since I am an people person, I enjoy engaging in conversations with folks and what they think about the situations that involved the communities?   What, I am hearing constantly  from the residents,  “that Ward 4, how it’s being disconnected from the city, and that’s true.”   If I am elect the City Council member and as an independent manner.  How our resources should be used effectively and efficiently.   First all we, residents, have to find common grounds to improve our neighborhoods and maintain our essential senses in the community to move forward. As an candidate your vote is needed  in the Ward 4 City Election on May 2nd.

Yours Truly,
Shirley Bender
ShirleyB.3020@gmail.com

Edouard Haba
Age: 35
Day Job: Mediator
Community Involvement: Hyattsville City Council, Hyattsville Aging in Place, Neighborhood Clean up Team

Dear neighbors,

 Four years ago, I ran on a platform to make our community safer, greener, and more inclusive while promoting sustainable development. I would like to seize this opportunity to highlight some of the accomplishments we have achieved:

  • Major progress has been made to bring the City’s financial audits up to date. We’re in the final stages of completing FY15 audit and substantial progress has also been made with FY16 audit.
  • The Police Department is fully funded and has received much needed fleet replacement and upgrades. The Public Works Department site is being renovated for added capacity and more efficiency.
  • We have mapped and created a searchable database of city owned trees, improved stormwater management by installing rain-gardens and other bio-retention structures, and taken steps to reduce littering.
  • Promoted sustainable developments. Today, with regards to my specific neighborhood, the Kiplinger Development (on East-West Hwy, between The Home Depot and Giant) is under way and we are excited about the prospect of the Riverfront Project at West Hyattsville Metro Station.
  • Efforts have been made to make Hyattsville a more inclusive and welcoming community by expanding voting privilege to all residents aged 16 and older, and adopting the Justice Department’s guidelines on Community Policing.  Additionally, we are currently moving to establish Hyattsville as a ‘Sanctuary City’.

 There is no doubt that progress has been made and that the City is moving in the right direction, with Ward 4 starting to receive the attention it needs and deserves. However, to keep the momentum going, we need council members who care about the community and can effectively work with residents and the rest of the council to foster and defend our interests. This is why I’m running for re-election and ask residents of Ward 4 to vote for me.

Ward Five

Derrika Durant
Age: 29
Day Job: Entrepreneur, Department Coordinator
Community Involvement 

  • Created ‘Clean the Streets’ –A campaign to clean up areas around the West Hyattsville Metro Station and the trails nearby.
  • Worked with Black Lives Matter Activists to lead forums to discuss police brutality in the minority community.

Statement to the Voters

If elected City Council Member for Ward 5 I plan to do the following:

  1. Focus on Education. Education is the great socioeconomic equalizer. In thriving economies worldwide, a foundation built on strong education is the common denominator. To that end, I plan to focus my efforts on enhancing course curriculum, adding more afterschool programs, improving school-base nutrition, and adding college readiness programs in high schools.
  2. Lower Poverty Level. We need to bring jobs back to the City of Hyattsville. According to the United States Department of Labor, effective July 01, 2016 the minimum wage for Maryland and the District of Columbia is $8.75 and $11.50 respectively. Ultimately, congested homes are a direct cause of a lack of jobs, low skill levels, and poor wages. Therefore, I plan to make access to adult learning and skills training my priority and work to increase minimum wage.
  3. Increase Homeowner/ Homebuyer Programs. Further Prince George’s County Department and Community Development (DHCD) and The Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) initiative to help first-time home buyers become homeowners and provide resources to residents restoring or renovating older homes.
  4. Promote Diversity and Inclusion. Building comradery as a community is crucial. In lieu of discriminatory Federal legislation that targets religion, citizenship, women, and the LGBTQ community, we need to band together and unite in the midst of oppression. My plans are to work with the City of Hyattsville to combat legislation targeting the aforementioned groups and support legislation such as, the Sanctuary City legislation. Moreover, I believe that it is imperative for the City of Hyattsville to fundraise and find alternative funding options if we are penalized by the Federal Government.
  5. Protect Our Children. I will focus my efforts on increasing neighborhood watch initiatives to decrease crime in our neighborhoods.

Erica Spell
Age: 31
Day Job: Federal Government Contractor for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Community Involvement: I’m an educated voter. I have viewed hours of City Council meetings to stay informed about issues that affect our community. I contribute to the Hyattsville economy by shopping locally and supporting our businesses.  I also attend City of Hyattsville events, particularly those that are family-oriented and allow my 5-year old daughter and I to explore and learn more about the community we reside in while having fun!

Statement to the Voters:

As a candidate for Hyattsville City Council (Ward 5), I’m focused on introducing and supporting policy that:

1) Increases economic development and opportunity – We’ve witnessed a lot of development in the City of Hyattsville, but it is not necessarily been equitable across all wards.  For Ward 5, my vision is to see better quality jobs, ensuring current businesses are getting a return on their investment, and as homeowners we are seeing an increase in the value of our homes;

2) Enhances public safety through collective responsibility – We are fortunate in Hyattsville to have our own City Police force. We need to ensure we are doing all we can to support them by making public safety a primary concern for ALL citizens.

3) Embraces diversity and inclusion – The City of Hyattsville is a thriving diverse and vibrant community. Our diversity should be celebrated. As a Spanish speaker, I understand the importance of making sure every voice is heard. As a potential representative, I must be able to communicate and represent the issues of ALL residents of Ward 5.

Additional qualifications: Prior to my current position with USAID, I held various roles in business, program, and training development at Heifer International, Ray Group International, and Creative Associates International. I began my professional career as an intern for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2007 which included (then Senators) Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama. I also interned with the State Department at the United States Consulate in Strasbourg, France. I have a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Howard University, a Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) from American University, and I am currently pursuing a PhD in Political Science at Howard University. To learn more, please visit www.EricaSpellforWard5.com.

Ben Zeitler
Age: 37
Day Job: Regional Property Manager with extensive experience in managing large apartment communities with an emphasis on excellent customer service. Extremely proficient in reading, interpreting and creating multi-million dollar budgets, profit and loss statements and variance reports. Skilled in managing a staff, increasing productivity, interior and exterior rehab/capital projects, marketing, and leasing.

Community Involvement: Dad, friend and neighbor who has been a part of our wonderful community participating in meal donations to new parents, supporting and assisting my neighbors and being a generally good steward of our community.

Statement:

Neighbors,

I have lived in Hyattsville with my wife, Nicole and son, Pierce for four years. I sought to run this year because with the current national political climate, I felt it was the right time to give back to our community and offer my voice to serve my neighbors in Ward 5.  With so much divisiveness in our country right now, I think that it is important for our community to stand together as one. I want to give back in a way that incorporates the voices of all our citizens and focuses our plans and legislation in ways that will improve our community for all.

There is much work to be done in Ward 5.  The area around the West Hyattsville metro station is being developed and I think it is critical that we move forward with this project in a smart, strategic way. The BB&T bank building plan should be completed and I would support setting it up as a community center/meeting spot. Throughout Hyattsville we need additional sidewalks, a focus on parking relief and strategies to combat speeding.  I am ready to tackle these issues on behalf of Ward 5.

I am very excited to be your voice on the council and I believe my professional background in private industry gives me a unique perspective and transferrable set of skills.  I understand real estate, budgets and what goes into putting together and executing development plans and special projects. I currently assist in writing policies and procedures to help my organization be a great place to work.  I look forward to using my experience to keep Hyattsville a welcoming city.

Please check out my website at benforhyattsville.com or email me at benforhyattsville@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.