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Folk Festival Draws Hundreds in Takoma Park

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TAKOMA PARK – Hundreds of Takoma Park residents gathered Sunday afternoon for the city's annual folk festival to celebrate cultural diversity.

"Today's event is terrific, one, we have perfect weather for it, second we have amazing organizers who have taken up the planning of the folk festival this year and they've done an amazing job," said Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart. "It appeals to all different tastes," she added.

Set on the grounds of Takoma Park Middle School, the festival attracted musicians, dancers, and artists from across the region who displayed their talents and crafts to an observant crowd that strolled between booths and stages.

"I think it's terrific, the music is good, people seem to be enjoying themselves, the weather is perfect, and hopefully next year it's going to be bigger, bolder, and stronger," said 40-year Takoma Park resident and Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot.

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Takoma Park votes and changes its election laws

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Takoma Park Govt logoTAKOMA PARK— The City mayor and Council changed the voting rules in the city charter May 10, bringing a slew of changes to the election process.

“It passed, we just changed our elections…it was harder than giving birth,” said Mayor Kate Stewart.

With the adoption of the charter amendment, the date of City elections will change from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years, synchronizing it with State and County elections.

It will also change the date of the nominating meeting, the day which the mayor and Council take office, and will extend the time for certification of election results. The length of the 2017 term will change, too.

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Takoma Park concerned about status

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Takoma Park is concerned after the Trump administration issued an executive order that may punish sanctuary cities.

The City of Takoma Park considers itself to be a sanctuary city, where city officials (including police) will not identify illegal immigrants. The city has been a sanctuary city since 1985, and its sanctuary law specifically prohibits city employees from asking city residents about their citizenship and immigration status, as well as cooperating with federal laws that may lead to deportations, according to the city.

“One of the things we want to make sure is that people have the information they need and resources they need to answer their questions and to meet the challenges that are facing us,” said Mayor Kate Stewart.

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Takoma Park seals its reputation as a political nesting ground

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The center of power in the county, state and even at times the federal government is not Washington D.C., but a cozy city nestled just north of it.

During the last few decades, Takoma Park has transformed from a small town home to minority religious community to a progressive political haven and the crucible where political careers begin.

For a small city of 17,000 people, it is home to a long list of political players, such as Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8), newly elected Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot and three members of the County Council George Leventhal (D-at large), Marc Elrich (D-at large) and Hans Riemer (D-at large).

“When you have a political belief, be absolutely fearless in promoting it,” said political activist Robin Ficker, who was born in Takoma Park. “Speak your mind and speak your mind until the heavens fall and don't let anyone intimidate you. It's a belief that springs from Takoma Park.”

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Developer seeks other tenant for Takoma Junction

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Takoma Junction moved a step closer to becoming reality after the City Council meeting on Jan. 11 allowed the developer to choose another tenant.

With a unanimous vote, the council allowed the developer, NDC, to choose another anchor tenant for the Takoma Junction project.

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Takoma Park to remain a sanctuary city despite Trump's executive order

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While the future of Pres. Donald Trump’s executive order to severely limit the number of people from some Muslim-majority countries is played out in the courts and out in the streets filled with protesters, Takoma Park stands strong in its decades-old decision to be a sanctuary city.

“Nothing is changing,” said Mayor Kate Stewart.

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Takoma Park and developers deadlocked

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As the extension for the letter of intent between the Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-op and developer NDC wind downs once again, progress seems to be halted.

On Dec. 7, the Takoma Park City Council granted a 30-day extension for the Co-op and NDC to come up with a letter of intent for the next steps in the process but not without strain on many involved.

“I have to say, as council member [Rizzy] Qureshi said, there were moments in the last three days where I said, ‘No, we’re not going to do the 30-day extension,’” said Mayor Kate Stewart at the Dec. 7 council meeting.

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Mother joins forces with police for youth

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Takoma Park 20160925 180108Awa Sy, 8; Meaghan Murphy; Fatoumata Sy, 17; Saron Alemseged, 17; Kadidjatou Niare, 17; (the three teens volunteer for Takoma Park Recreation Dept.), Renay Johnson, Blair High School principal; Mayor Kate Stewart, and Captain Tyrone Collington of Takoma Park Police pose for a picture at Unity in the Community kickoff Sunday. PHOTO BY KATHLEEN STUBBS  

TAKOMA PARK -- Resident and business co-owner Meaghan Murphy has children who are of an ethnic minority, and said videos of incidents involving police brutality emotionally affect her on a personal level.

“When you watch these incidents between officers and community members, it’s hard because you ask, is that the only option?” Murphy said. “You don’t want the option to be a life lost, on either side ever.”

Murphy, whose husband is black, whose son is biracial and stepsons are African-American, said she never intended to start a citywide, police-community initiative when she sought the assistance of city government.

But that’s just what happened. The kickoff for the brand new initiative Unity in the Community was Sunday.

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Residents in Takoma Park seek shady spots

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TAKOMA PARK – City residents asked Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission officials to find a way to avoid cutting down or damaging their trees when they repair damaged water and sewer lines between Westmore and Eastern Avenues.

Homeowners pointed upward to several trees tall enough to tower over their homes during a walk-through with WSSC officials Mayor Kate Stewart and Council member Rizzy Qureshi (District 3) Tuesday.

The residents said some of the trees are more than 100 years old and provide canopy coverage that protects their homes and prevents flooding.

Doug Sievers, an environmental analysts from the WSSC, acknowledged Takoma Park also has one of the most restrictive tree-protection ordinances in the country.

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