Election Countdown: Meet the 2015 candidates

*Due to an editing error, candidates are not in alphabetical order in the print edition. We apologize for any confusion. The mistake is corrected here.*

The Hyattsville Life & Times reached out to all candidates registered to run for city council in the city’s 2015 municipal elections. Below, you’ll find their statements, published as they were received. Candidates are listed by ward in numeric order with the exception of the mayoral race, which is first.

MayorWard 1Ward 2Ward 3Ward 4Ward 5

Mayor

Candace Hollingsworth

Candace Hollingsworth

Name: Candace B. Hollingsworth
Age: 33
Day Job: Chief Financial Officer and Consultant

Community Involvement (Current): Council President, Ward 1 – Hyattsville City Council (2013-Present); Chair, Board of Directors – ECO City Farms (2013-Present); Vice-President, Hyattsville Elementary School PTA (2010-14); Vice-Chair, Law, Education, and Public Service Academy Advisory Board (2011-14); Member, Hyattsville Community Development Corporation (2011-12)

Statement to Voters:
If elected Mayor, I will lead with an appreciation for who we are as a community and a vision for what we desire to become. I ask you to support me in building a world-class City that continues to grow in its beauty, safety, inclusiveness, and financial viability. As Mayor, I will work with and for you to ensure that we:

Build a culture of openness and accountability.

  • Improve our ability to hear from you and respond to your concerns.
  • Energize civic engagement and empower residents to help uncover solutions to our biggest challenges.
  • Maintain a commitment transparency with Council colleagues and residents.

Deliver services with excellence in every neighborhood in the City.

  • Channel investments to ensure that neighborhood priorities are met.
  • Ensure that programs and services promote inclusiveness and connectedness across the City.
  • Drive economic development without sacrificing the beauty, charm, and essence of Hyattsville.
  • Maintain a top-rate workforce in all City departments.

Plan for and invest in Hyattsville’s future.

  • Attract partnerships to bring amenities to residents of all ages.
  • Be an active partner with our business residents to promote our City as an ideal and thriving center for entrepreneurs.
  • Proactively address and advocate for needed improvements in our roads, schools, parks, and community spaces.

Most importantly, I want to hear from you so that I can work effectively and responsibly on your behalf. It has been an honor to serve the residents of Ward 1 for the past 4 years and I look forward to serving all City residents for the next 4 years. Please vote on May 5th!

Please share your ideas, issues, and concerns with me:
Phone: 202.423.7752
Email: cbhollingsworth@gmail.com
Twitter: @cbh726
Facebook: www.facebook.com/cbh.hvl
Website: www.CandaceHollingsworth.com

Ward 1

jenneyName: William Jenney
Age: 42
Day Job: Financial Adviser

Community Involvement: Hyattsville Ethics Commission, Sonny Frazier Toy Drive

Statement to Voters: If I’m elected to the council I will always strive to build consensus around the ideas that I believe best solves the problem at hand. I have a point-of-view on most issues, but I know that I don’t have all the answers and I’m always looking to support my colleagues. Everyone who knows me says that I’m a congenial, easy-going guy who can get along with pretty much everyone and can work towards a common goal. On the other hand, I’m not a yes-man and if I don’t agree on the substance of an issue I won’t rubber-stamp it. And I believe that almost all the details of even the thorniest issue can be negotiated on in a way that’s fair to all parties – and it can be done in a friendly way.

If I’m elected to the council I will be an effective member because my schedule is flexible and I can attend to city business during the work day if necessary;  I’m self-employed and work from home and therefore have a good deal of flexibility in my schedule.

I’ve lived in Hyattsville since 2005 and my two daughters attend local schools. My oldest goes to Hyattsville Elementary. I think Hyattsville is a great community and I would be honored to serve the city as a council member.

karimName: Talib Karim
Age: 45
Day Job: Executive Director, STEM4US!, an advocate for increased investments in innovation sector job creation and STEM education and training

Community Involvement: I’m a husband and father of three.  One of our children is a senior at DeMatha High. As a resident of Hyattsville’s Arts District neighborhood over the past four years, I’ve worked to establish good relations with my neighbors through leading community clean ups, neighborhood discussions, and football game viewing parties. In addition, I’ve served as a judge for the STEM fair at Hyattsville Elementary and had numerous discussions with city leaders and neighbors about developing vacant properties along Route 1.

Statement to Voters: The theme of my campaign is “Prosperity and Progress through Innovation”

Over the past four years, my family and I have enjoyed living in Hyattsville’s Arts District. We believe that Hyattsville is a wonderful place and has great potential to be even better.

By working together, as one city, we can help Hyattsville grow by encouraging innovative ideas and businesses, particularly along Route 1 and near the West Hyattsville Metro Station. These new ventures could form the center of a Hyattsville “Innovation District” to complement our city’s “Arts District.”  We could work with the businesses to tap into millions of dollars spent in research and development at the nearby University of Maryland, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control. With the revenues from these new businesses and residents, we can create new jobs, attract more retail outlets, and expand city services.

If elected to the Hyattsville City Council, you could count on me to:

  • Push for improved parking, new parks, and additional retail outlets.
  • Urge the city to invest more in STEM/STEAM education programs to equip our children with skills to prepare them for jobs in our nation’s science and tech driven economy.
  • Increase activities designed to bring residents of Hyattsville together to foster a greater sense of community, increase public safety, and inspire a spirit of neighborliness.

That’s the reason I am running for City Council and asking my Ward 1 neighbors for their vote and support. ‪#‎HyattsvilleInnovates


Name:
LaVonne Leslie

No statement provided


nielsenName:
Carl Nielsen
Age:  65
Day Job: Self-employed Regulatory Consultant to industry and consumer organizations

Community Involvement: I VOTE. Did I mention I vote? Living in my Hyattsville neighborhood for 15 years, our immediate neighborhood is one where everyone knows everyone. We help each other out daily – a real community. We share in open house gatherings several times a year. I also do my part as a good citizen – I recycle more than I trash. I walk instead of using my car when I can. I shop at Hyattsville business establishments almost exclusively. Most recently, I participated directly in city affairs by volunteering for the group of residents vetting candidates for the city administrator position approximately 2 years ago.

Statement to Voters: I have a background in executive management and regulatory affairs from my 28 year career with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. I will use my know-how and abilities to work with others to find practical solutions to problems confronting City operations and citizens. Just as important, I will actively support and encourage successful and yet-to-be-formed arts activities in Hyattsville.

I see Hyattsville quickly growing as a vibrant City for the Arts. I will actively support newly arriving businesses; programs and activities at our arts high school and middle school; and the continued success of the Hyattsville Arts Festival.  I fully support the Hyattsville Aging-in-Place initiative and the newly formed City Council Teen Advisory Committee. I believe in intergenerational activities and would promote such activities.

Parking and Code Enforcement issues are not limited to the HWY 1 Corridor.  We struggle at our homes and on our streets too! There are many possibilities to resolve this growing tension. Business needs and our citizen’s quality of life are not mutually exclusive. With the Hyattsville CDC, I would champion the formation of a business owners networking group to be a resource to the Council, consulting on issues impacting business. As a Council member, it would be my responsibility to communicate with residents then share their thoughts with the Council to assist in finding suitable and sustainable solutions.

There are significant upcoming long-term budgetary and capital decisions. I commit to making decisions that keep taxes as low as possible; to balancing needs of business development, the Arts, and residential quality of life; to working towards a budget that plans for economic shifts; to ensuring that tools and suitable facilities are available for effective City operations and service delivery; and to promoting a common sense, face-to-face approach to Code Enforcement.


nolascoName:
Jocelyn I. Nolasco
Age: 18
Day Job: Student

Community Involvement: Regularly attends City Council Meetings; Prince George’s Regional Association of Student Governments Public Relations Coordinator; PGCPS CEO Advisory Board Member; Maryland Association of Student Councils Workshop Trainer; University of Maryland Upward Bound Program SGA President; Extended Summer Program Student Volunteer to help students with special needs

Statement to the Voters: Running for City Council was a decision I made in order to make sure that there is change in Hyattsville. As someone who has attended schools in Hyattsville and has vouched for renovations and resources for our schools, I know the importance of outreach and getting everyone involved.

As a City Council member, I will work diligently to ensure that we focus on the future as well as the present of our great city. One of the main items that I will be focusing on is communication. I have lived in Hyattsville all my life and want to ensure that all residents know and understand what is going on in the city, whether it is public development, a city event, or any other great things that Hyattsville is doing.  It is also important to focus on the environment of our city, and I would like to engage residents in more environmentally friendly activities, whether it is participating in a compost program or coming to a workshop to learn about alternatives. It is also important to engage with all the schools in Hyattsville, and the time is now. Many schools in the area are asking the county for renovations to our schools that present a great need for change. I have presented those needs to my fellow colleagues and wish to continue to push for the changes that parents, teachers, and students in the area want, which will connect the City government with all other levels of government. There are so many other items that I wish to address if elected on the City Council. I will give my all to being a City Council member, ensuring you greatness and nothing less. We shall work together to keep Hyattsville as “a world within walking distance.”

For more information, you may follow me on twitter @MarvelJocelyn or add me as a friend on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarvelJocelyn. I will also be following up with residents of Ward 1 throughout the spring break to listen to what you would like to see in the next years throughout Hyattsville.


obikeName:
Winnie Obike
Age: 25
Day Job: Graduate Instructor of Communication at the University of Maryland, College Park

Community involvement: Volunteer with So Others Might Eat SOME, Engaged with local moms through the Hyattsville Nurturing moms listserv, observer of Hyattsville city politics

Statement to voters: Friends, it is an honor to seek your vote in the upcoming election. I am running for City Council to work with you to enhance this wonderful community for ourselves and our families. As a Nigerian-American immigrant, I am well prepared to collaborate with diverse constituencies to meet our civic goals. My background also informs my hard-working middle-class values, which have spurred me to pursue my Ph.D. in Political Communication at the University of Maryland in College Park. The insights I have gained on culture, politics, and history through these academic and life experiences will help guide my decisions as a councilwoman.

As a fellow resident of the City of Hyattsville, there are three main issues that concern me. The need for better infrastructure in Hyattsville such as good roads; security lights for dimly lit neighborhoods so as to reduce crime. These concerns dovetail with my insistence on prudence on the Hyattsville budget, city spending and taxes. Second, support for continued economic and arts-related development on Route 1. And finally, the need for sustained advocacy for vulnerable and marginalized constituencies in our city.

It is my goal to represent your ideals, hopes and vision for a better Hyattsville.


wardName:
Kevin Ward
Age:  37
Day Job:  Director of Project Management Office (“PMO”) at an educational software corporation, managing a team of project managers and software developers to deliver higher education matriculation solutions to over 5000 schools and associations nationwide.

Community Involvement: Member of Hyattsville Elementary School Parent Teacher Association (“PTA”); Member of Northwestern High School PTSA; 3 Time Rotary Paul Harris Fellow for Dedication to Youth Leadership and Service; Assistant Camp Director, Camp RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards) for over 10 years

Statement to the Voters:  We all deserve a community full of great schools and thriving local businesses.  My family and I moved to Hyattsville because we cannot envision a better place to raise our two boys.  I am running for Ward 1 Representative because our city can be a model for others, and I believe my ideas for the city will help build on its current momentum.  The centerpieces of my campaign are:

    • Hyattsville First! – This campaign will focus on obtaining needed goods and services in Hyattsville before looking to other jurisdictions, as it both supports Hyattsville businesses and ensures that tax dollars stay in Hyattsville.
    • Community Adoption of Ward 1 Schools – As a parent of two children in Hyattsville (PGPS) public schools, it is essential to embrace them as community schools.  This can be done by working with PTAs to increase supports and opportunities for students and with school administrators to develop community mentorship and youth empowerment programs.  Finally, the city can help ensure that robust and rewarding aftercare programs are available to Ward 1 families.
    • Expansion and Enhancement of the Route 1 Corridor – Expansion of the Route 1 corridor must continue south, with a focus on reducing traffic congestion.  Enhancements to the Route 1 corridor should include promoting multimodal connectivity, continuing the push for quiet zones at the Decatur Street and Baltimore Avenue Railroad Crossings, and ensuring that development includes the neighborhoods east of Baltimore Avenue (such as Buchanan and Burlington Streets).

  • Community Policing – By having the Hyattsville Police Department develop community partnerships and then engage in joint problem solving around individual communities’ concerns, we can both deter criminal behavior and ensure public confidence in our top notch police force.

Further detail about my campaign can be found on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WardforWard1. I humbly request your vote on May 5.

Ward 2

hilesName: David Hiles
Age: 57
Day Job: Supervisory Economist, US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Community Involvement:  Hyattsville Councilmember 2009-2013.  Founding board member and volunteer, Prince George’s Soccer, Inc. Hyattsville resident since 2007. Lived in Riverdale Park before that, and briefly served on Riverdale Park town council.  PTA president in Riverdale Park.

Statement to the Voters: I’m not a great campaigner.  I’ve been an effective council member.
Goals if elected:

  • I will help establish a no-train-whistle zone In Hyattsville, Riverdale Park, and Edmonston. I upgraded the guard gates at the Riverdale Farmers Market railroad crossing by working with CSX and the Maryland State Highway Administration.  I did research back then on what was needed to quiet the whistles.
  • I’d like to help strengthen our city tree program.  I helped revivify the Hyattsville  tree program in my first term, when we planted over 200 trees and hired a tree-friendly Public Works manager.
  • I’ll work to identify operational savings that we can redirect to increased spending on youth programs during vacation breaks.
  • I’ll increase transparency by sending a monthly note to the HOPE list with my take on current council action.
  • Following on with the expansion of city voting rights  to 16 year olds(!), I’ll work to extend the vote to noncitizens.
  • Etc.  More will come up over the next four years.  I’ll help get things done.

Check out my twitter feed @HilesDavid.  You might be surprised.

strabName: Emily Strab
Age: 30
Day Job: 24/7 on-call mom, music teacher

Community Involvement: I am a member of three Hyattsville Listservs: HOPE, HNMoms, and Hyattsmoms, which has put me in contact with families that I can help by bringing meals, donating baby gear, etc.  I am also part of one of the city’s babysitting co-ops and helped to create and continue to support the online administration of the co-op, so that it runs smoothly. I established and run the early childhood music at St. Jerome’s, my family’s parish. I teach music to the youth of Hyattsville in my music studio through both individual and small group lessons. I also volunteer as the treasurer for HCC, Inc., a non-profit that raises funds for the training and certification of local Montessori teachers.

Statement to voters: Since moving here in 2007, Hyattsville has transformed from a place that I lived into my home and the neighborhood where my children will grow up. We are a city full of motivated people who make our visions for the city come to fruition. I want to be one of those visionaries for the city, not because there is anything wrong with it, but because our city is full of so much good; so much potential! As a councilmember I will work to make Hyattsville feel like home for everyone in our city; providing a range of services to meet the needs of our diverse population, making an effort to beautify the entirety of Hyattsville, and most importantly ensuring public safety. I want every family to feel as loved and nurtured by this community as my own family does.

Please vote for me for Ward 2 on May 5th, and please read and comment on my blog, emilystrabforward2.wordpress.com. The best way for me to represent Ward 2 is to hear from you!


Shani WarnerName:
Shani Warner
Age: 41
Day Job: Attorney at Williams & Connolly LLP

Community Involvement: Hyattsville City Council Member, Ward 2; Ward 2 Neighborhood Watch, Co-Captain; Hyattsville Nurturing Moms, member of the “Babes in Charge” board, recent “List Mom”; Hyattsville Aging in Place, volunteer; Cookie Monster Sitters Babysitting Co-op, member; Hyattsville Horticultural Society, member; Hyattsville Preservation Society, member; PG Pool, member; Friends of the Library, member; Hyattsville Elementary School PTA, member; Prince George’s Elected Municipal Women, Legislative Co-Chair

Statement to the Voters: I’m as discouraged as anyone by the corrosiveness of the national political culture, but my work on the local level is a concerted and idealistic effort to change our political conversation from the bottom up. Four years ago I ran for office to change the factionalism on the Hyattsville City Council, which I ran up against when starting a community garden. I thought I could do something to help transform that dynamic and I believe I have. On the Council, my emphasis has been on community building and expanding civic participation. I strive to share information widely and to understand other viewpoints. I’ve learned that my signature strengths are that I’m thoughtful, imaginative, and kind. Our local political culture has improved dramatically over the past four years, with a new level of cooperation and respect characterizing the interactions among our elected officials and staff. We have also started to more effectively leverage the talents and energy of our residents and to find ways to put these impressive skills to work for Hyattsville. The next four years will be a critical time for us, particularly if the FBI announces its relocation to our county. Our community is both a work in progress and it’s an area which is coming into its own. I have had the great privilege of being part of the collective efforts to transform this community into the wonderful place to live and work it is today. Big changes are in store for us, but I will also fight to protect that which makes Hyattsville special. Many of the people reading this know me and know what I’m about. I’ve served the past four years representing Ward 2 on the Hyattsville City Council and I ask for your vote to allow me to continue the work we’ve started. www.VoteWarner.com

Ward 3

wrightName: Thomas Wright
Age: 57
Day Job: Director of IT

Community Involvement: University Hills Civic Association

Statement to the Voters: When deciding on an area to live, my spouse and I selected Hyattsville.  The area was affordable, vibrant and accessible.  We may be rather biased, but we’ve come to think of Hyattsville as the best place around.  As a neighbor and a resident, I hope you share the same sentiment.  When settling in nearly four years ago, the last thing on my mind was to run for City Council.  Ward 3 has wonderful representation and our community has quite a bit at stake, so I decided to give back to the community and offer my service as a Council Member.  It is a time commitment and the shoes will be hard to fill, but I’m up for the challenge.

After many conversations with neighbors and friends, I needed to contemplate how a campaign might be structured.  And, what interests and concerns would I look for in a prospective candidate.  I decided to define the strategy with three very approachable words: City – Community – Culture.

Focused on City, I would support development expansion and economic growth that is sensible and sustainable, encourages conservation of natural green space and holds the City accountable for keeping the budget in check.

Centered on Community, I would advocate for stronger neighborhood safety and protection, encourage City and school collaboration, explore improved recreational opportunities, and seek ways to enhance municipal services.

Driven by Culture, I would be a proponent of continued arts cultivation, champion appreciation of diversity, promote youth involvement, and back support for seniors.

Of course, none of this is possible without community involvement and support.  Become an active participant in your community by exercising your right to vote and make your voice be heard!  Let’s make Ward 3 number 1 in voter turn-out!

Ward 4

perryName: Paula Perry
Age: 62
Day Job: Retired but I’m a stay at home Grandma

Community Involvement: City Council since 1999, Code  Enforcement Committee, Cert Member, Police Acad., Neighborhood Watch.

Statement: I have served the residents of Ward 4 since 1999 and as I have said from the beginning I will always do the best I can do to serve each and every resident to the best of my ability. I can’t solve everyone’s problem but I give it my all to make living in Hyattsville a good one.

Ward 5

solomonName: Joseph Solomon
Age: 29
Day Job: System Integration Consultant

Community Involvement: Hyattsville City Council; Hyattsville Planning Committee; Maryland Young Democrats; Prince George’s County Municipal Association

Statement to the Voters: I have enjoyed my tenure as a member of the Hyattsville City Council.  Should residents choose to re-elect me as representative of Ward 5, I will gratefully return and continue to emphasize the importance of redevelopment initiatives in West Hyattsville.  Since my last election, I believe we have made great progress in revitalizing our community, from funding the West Hyattsville Lighting Study and keeping residential property taxes low, to developing consensus around moving the Hyattsville Police Department to 3505 Hamilton Street.  I want to see these efforts cross the finish line. Over the next four years I will not only continue work on these projects but also, work with the City Administration and WMATA to ensure that planned West Hyattsville Metro development is a true reflection of our community values and the future we envision for our neighborhood.

My methodology on representation has been to keep residents engaged on the issues and to the best of my ability, allow my vote on council to represent the general reflection of our community.  Over the course of the next four years I intend to expand on the community engagement initiatives I have started, including additional teleconferences, and community meetings. My focal points will also include improving the City’s capacity to respond to resident service request through staff augmentation and necessary technology upgrades. Communicating with residents and working toward community solutions has been among the most enjoyable aspects of council.  Together we have made great process, and I believe that together we can continue to build a stronger community.

Name: Sonia E. Francis

No statement provided.