BY SUSIE CURRIE — This is our last issue before the city’s biennial election on May 3, so we decided to let the candidates speak for themselves. Mayor Bill Gardiner will not be running for re-election, so the race for the top spot is the only one without an incumbent. Vying to replace him are Christopher Brophy, LaVonne Leslie and Marc Tartaro.
We invited each candidate to submit 300 words of their choosing. They could, we told them, use the space to make their cases to the voters, explain their platforms, or share why they’re running. Here’s what they told us.
Age: 51, yet still dead sexy
Day job: Proprietor, Rhode Island Reds Café
- City property and business taxpayer
- Organizer of the annual Mature Gentleman’s Invitational Belly Flop Exhibition at the Prince George’s Pool
- Chef [Rhode Island Reds]
- Internationally produced playwright, S.A.G. and Equity labor union member (inactive)
Because of the overwhelming groundswell of grassroots clamoring among the local intelligentsia, cultural elite, and rank-and-file for my candidacy — combined with the perennial challenge to put my money where my beak is — I felt compelled to fill out the mayoral application form at City Hall during a small window of relatively free time away from operating the critically acclaimed prizewinning eatery of which I am the proprietor, Rhode Island Reds Café. I was posting bills across the street anyway, it cost nothing, and it only took 5 minutes.
Imagine my chagrin when I come to find, upon the closing date of registration, that I was the only “dark horse” entrant! All the dozens of other blowhard fellow-citizen miscreants had broken their oath and neglected to pitch their hats into the ring. I’d been duped. The patsy fall guy restaurateur tests the waters, full of sharks, for the still philosophically sound civic experiment whose premise: What if a regular-shmoe Anyman tested this democratic process, challenged this self-perpetuating oligarchy of mutual congratulation, this veritable Niagara of mediocrity with his own body and soul and public persona and dared to say, “There’s only two competitors?? That’s a race? After all these years of complaining over lack of leadership?! Let’s all run!”
I’ve some ideas on what’s wrong with local government. We all do. But until we all of us throw off our bonds of complacency, get involved with our own community and do something fascinating every day, then we deserve more of the same old dreck.
A few ideas: Promote local small business. Limit outside development. Allow backyard chickens. Require city police to walk a beat twice weekly. Decrease taxes. Abbreviate city council meetings. Support community gardens, gardeners, and Bill Gardiner for county administrator.
Day job: Professor and historian
- President, Washington & Vicinity Federation of Women’s Clubs, programs to uplift women
- Past President, Office on Aging D.C. Mini-Commission Ward 6, liason on issues affecting the aged
- United Way campaign volunteer
- Director, Grandparents Academy youth and mentoring program D.C. metropolitan area
- Pan-Hellenic Council; Member, National Association of Professional
- Service Learning Coordinator, responsible for assigning university students to volunteer with local nonprofit organizations.
My platform advocates Change for Progress. I will promote programs to benefit the community in terms of business enterprises, education and community development. The city must embrace its diversity by offering services to benefit everyone.
Education is necessary for progress. Our youth represents our future; therefore it is essential to involve them in city affairs to promote good civic duty. As an educator, I value education on all levels. With our children having an outstanding education, positive growth will be inevitable in the city. I will meet with parents at PTA meetings to stay informed on issues affecting our schools.
Monthly town hall meetings will be held to allow residents opportunities to express concerns and to offer suggestions for the betterment of the city. I will promote cultural and social activities to highlight quality living in Hyattsville. I will stay informed on county, state, and federal legislation impacting the city. I will work to secure government contracts and grants to secure funds for the city. I will support beautification projects to help make this an outstanding city. The residents will be encouraged to participate in green projects to benefit the environment, thus resulting in a higher standard of living.
I have over 20 years’ experience as a community activist and educator. I have worked with at-risk inner-city youths as a mentor and tutor. I have worked as a historian for the National Register of Historic Places. I serve as president of Washington and Vicinity Federation of Women’s Clubs. In this capacity on a volunteer basis, I promote activities to uplift the community by focusing on education, health, politics and youth development. My education and experience enables me to have the necessary intellect and skills to be an exceptional mayor
Day job: Architect, Senior Design Manager, Smithsonian Institution
- City Council: Ward 1 Member since 2005. Vice President, 2 years; President, 2 years; Executive Committee, 4 years. Representative to regional Wells Run Committee and city Planning Committee and WSSC Committee
- Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, Brentwood (HMB) Boys and Girls Club: Soccer Commissioner 1999 to 2010; Vice President, 3 years; President, 3 years
- Architectural services: Pro bono design work for City to rebuild and complete Trumbule Trail in Magruder Park; façade grant program for Route 1 businesses; review of city projects and procurement including EYA, West Hyattsville Metro, facilities assessments, and road replacement and improvements
I seek to be the mayor of Hyattsville because I believe I can improve our city. My goal is to ensure a vibrant future for our city and all its residents. To do this, I will build on my record of community activism, and employ my skills and experience.
I have lived in Hyattsville for 25 years and have been very involved in the civic life of our community. During the 1990s, I worked on the Planning Committee, where the revitalization of our Route 1 Corridor began. I designed the Franklins restaurant addition and led improvements to Magruder Park. I coached community soccer for 11 years, serving as the soccer commissioner as well as president of the HMB Boys and Girls Club. I continue to serve the community by running the Prince George’s Soccer program in Magruder Park. As a representative from Ward 1, I currently serve as president of the city council.
My work as an architect for the Smithsonian Institution requires skills that have been, and will be, useful for our city: project management, construction, real estate development, budgeting, contract negotiation, procurement and personnel management.
More important than my experience is my vision for Hyattsville’s future. My vision touches three broad areas: supporting our schools by leveraging existing resources to help keep our schools strong, improving fiscal management through multi-year budgeting, and strengthening our community with targeted initiatives that support our young families as well as our older community members, and that create a greener city while maintaining vigilance against crime.
I would be honored to serve as mayor of Hyattsville and employ my professional and civic experience working with all of you to ensure a vibrant future for our city.