By EMILY STRAB — While the City of Hyattsville is not holding an election this year — municipal elections take place every two years on odd-numbered years — there are quite a few Hyattsville residents who have been busy campaigning for the June 26 county and state elections and primaries, including six candidates on the ballot who are from Hyattsville. Why so many Hyattsvillians on the ballot? During interviews, the candidates all talked about the same themes: Hyattsville produces candidates for higher offices because it is a city that fosters a community focused on taking care of one another and creating connectivity and awareness of politics on local and national levels. Interestingly, the diversity of Hyattsville is reflected by these candidates: half are African-American, and half Caucasian; half are men, and half are women.
Here’s an introduction to the Hyattsville residents who are running in the June 26 elections and primaries:
Anne Healey: Candidate for State Delegate, District 22
Anne Healey, a Hyattsville resident since 1979, is running for re-election for her seat as state delegate, a position that she has held since 1991. Before becoming state delegate, Anne got her start in politics right here in Hyattsville, largely because of a local community issue. As a reporter, Healey covered Hyattsville City Council meetings, but because of reporting ethics, she stayed out of politics. However, when the issue of dense development and increased traffic on her neighbors’ quiet street came up, Healey said she knew she had to get involved. Healey went door-to-door raising awareness of the traffic issue, while her husband, Neal Conway, who was a city councilmember, attended county hearings on the issue. Because of the work of Healey, Conway and others, the city and developer were able to find a compromise.
Then, when her husband could no longer serve on the city council, Healey was appointed to fill his vacancy, and she represented Ward 2 from 1987-1990. When a seat opened in the Maryland House of Delegates in 1990, Healey ran and won.
Healey tries to bring lessons learned from Hyattsville politics to the Maryland House of Delegates, in an effort to make the state as “warm, accepting, and diverse” as Hyattsville has seemed to her. Healey notes that she and her Hyattsville neighbors watched out for one another’s children. She continued, “One of the reasons we have government, is our responsibility as a society to take care of one another.” When asked about Hyattsville residents’ political involvement at the state level, Healey said, “That’s been true for a long, long time,” citing former governor Parris Glendening, who also got his start on the Hyattsville city council.
Winnie Obike: Candidate for State Delegate, District 22
A doctoral candidate in communications at the University of Maryland, Winnie Obike is, at the age of 28, the youngest Hyattsvillian running for state office. She is also the only candidate running as a Republican. In 2015, Obike ran for Hyattsville City Council in a heated seven-way race, and she’s using that campaign experience in her run for state delegate.
Obike reflects Hyattsville’s growing population of young parents who are connected to this community and active in politics on local and national levels. When asked why she thinks so many Hyattsville residents make the commitment to run for office, Obike said, “Hyattsvillians are super active in the electoral process as voters, and as people running [to become] elected officials, because Hyattsville is a melting pot with people from all parts of the country living as good neighbors to each other. It also flows from the fact that we have an active city government that really cares about the people.”
Wanika Fisher: Candidate for State Delegate, District 47B
A Hyattsville resident since late 2013, Wanika Fisher has been active in politics in the area since her time as a Terp at the University of Maryland. She is also familiar with many of the other candidates on the ballot, having been a staffer for the county council, a staffer for Sen. Victor Ramirez, and an Assistant State’s Attorney. She credits Hyattsville’s location so close to a major university with bringing civically-minded individuals from all over the world to our community. “I think it is natural from an engaged community that people would feel empowered to seek elected office to improve their community.”
Fisher said Hyattsville’s diversity motivates her to “be a voice for the voiceless” and represent the multicultural population of district 47B, which includes the Prince George’s Plaza area of Hyattsville. “The diversity of our community reflects a diversity of issues that need to be addressed in Annapolis.”
Candace B. Hollingsworth: Candidate for County Council, District 2
After moving to Hyattsville in 2009, a place she felt her family could afford and a community in which she and her husband could confidently raise their children, Hollingsworth quickly got involved in serving the community. She was an officer with the PTA at Hyattsville Elementary, where her children (whom she cites as the largest reason for her participation in politics) attended school, before being elected to represent Ward 1 on the Hyattsville City Council from 2011 to 2014. She has served as Hyattsville’s mayor since 2015. (If elected to the county council, Hollingsworth will have to resign from the last six months of her term as mayor.)
On her website, Hollingsworth says, “Our communities are full of leaders — people who invest their time to build better schools and neighborhoods.” Hollingsworth has seen this at a local level as a city councilmember and mayor, but says “I decided to run for a county-level position because I’ve seen what we’ve done in Hyattsville and the pride in our city that we’ve engendered, and I want to see the same for all of our communities.” Being a part of Hyattsville’s unique brand of community, she says, has “renewed my faith in community and my beliefs in the strength of civic engagement” that has motivated so many in Hyattsville to run for office.
Peter Killough: Candidate for Prince George’s Circuit Court Judge
Judge Peter Killough was appointed to the Prince George’s County Circuit Court, part of the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court of Maryland, by Governor Larry Hogan in 2017. He is now running for election to continue in one of the 23 spots for full-time judges. Killough has spent almost 30 years practicing law and remarks that it is a difficult but fulfilling job. “When we see people in court, it can be the worst day of their lives, and you try to balance that out,” he says, by being compassionate and ethical while following the law. While voters often overlook judges on the ballot, Killough says it is important to make sure that you are voting for judges that represent the demographics of your community and will be able to undertake the large workload. The judges on the circuit court sit on jury trials, so their work directly impacts the community. He is currently the only judge from Hyattsville on the court. He says Hyattsville, where he lives with his wife Jamila and his children, is the most civic-minded and engaged community he has been a part of, and is amazed at the number of people who not only run for office, but actively support those who do.
Danny Schaible: Candidate for Democratic Central Committee
Danny Schaible, who has lived in Hyattsville since 2016, says that the events of the 2016 election thrust him into politics. He began with local activism, purchasing and distributing more than 200 trilingual “No Matter Where You Are From, We’re Glad You Are Our Neighbor” signs that can be seen all over Hyattsville. “Things snowballed from there,” Schaible says, and now he is running for the Democratic Central Committee.
Why the leap from homegrown activism to political office? “People in Hyattsville are ready to take active roles in participatory democracy,” said Schaible. He hopes to make such participation easier by working to establish a Democratic convention in Maryland, having open primaries and abolishing superdelegates. Schaible acknowledged that he has “learned a great deal from my friends and neighbors,” and says he is inspired by “the level of thoughtful and passionate involvement from community members,” most recently residents who have spoken out about the possible Magruder Pointe development. Schaible credits community diversity with creating the political and social activism in which so many in Hyattsville participate.
David Hiles: Candidate for Democratic Central Committee
David Hiles has been a resident of Hyattsville since 2007. He ran and won election for Hyattsville City Council in 2009. He championed park improvement in the city, and, as a Hyattsville-Mount Rainier-Brentwood sports league coach, he was concerned about making the city’s muddy soccer fields more usable. He served four years on the city council, helping pass policies on Monday yard waste pickup and native species street trees. He also promoted a reformed budget process. Before serving on the Hyattsville City Council, Hiles was a member of the Riverdale Park City Council, and he helped improve the safety of the railroad crossing on Queensbury Road.
Now, Hiles wants to take his service to the next level in Maryland’s Democratic Central Committee. Hiles said he wants to give Hyattsville a voice in creating the first state-wide Democratic platform. He is working on this issue to provide a structure for strong Hyattsville voices to engage more effectively in state politics. “It is amazing to me that for this energetic community, three of our four representatives in Annapolis were appointed [vs. elected] to their first terms. We should be filling these positions with people who have municipal experience and organic connections to our communities,” said Hiles.
Hiles continued, “One of the best parts of Hyattsville is its openness to diversity and the international community.” Asked why he thinks so many Hyattsvillians go into politics, Hiles referenced the strength of the community, saying, “Strong municipalities help people get into government — people closely connected to the community — it’s those people who should move up and expand on that organic connection.”
Hyattsville has produced diverse candidates for several levels of county and state office, and you can be proud to be part of a community that encourages and fosters political involvement at every level. Be sure to do your part to make Hyattsville’s voice heard! Residents can vote June 26. Early voting is from June 14 through 21.
This story was updated June 24 to include Hyattsville resident Wanika Fisher. HL&T mistakenly left her off our original list.