HYATTSVILLE – The city of Hyattsville ushered in the new and said goodbye to the old Monday night as the new city council was sworn in and two outgoing members stepped away from the dais.
May 15 was the last day on the council for former members Patrick Paschall and Ruth Anne Frazier after an election where neither sought reelection. The pair of meetings held that night largely focused on the changing of the guard in the city with speeches thanking the two councilmembers and welcoming the two who will replace them.
“As I look back at four years of having served on the council, I think that you, my colleagues, should be proud of the work that you’ve done,” Paschall said. “I know that I am and it's not just the headline grabbing stuff – the sanctuary city legislation that we recently passed, the voting reforms, the human rights act or the paid (family) leave for city employees. While those are exciting developments that I think have really done a good job of making our surrounding community aware of how progressive and exciting Hyattsville is, I really do think that this council has the most be proud of in the background work that has been done.”
Paschall leaves after just one four-year term on the council that saw two large changes to voting rights in the city in allowing non-citizens and 16-year-olds to vote in city elections. The city also underwent voting reforms, declared itself a sanctuary city, made several large decisions in regards to city building repairs and renovations, and overall expanded services and programs to the city.
“It’s hard to ignore the lasting impact that his four years on the council will have on our community. I think (he has) made this community more just and more welcoming and (he has) represented the best of Hyattsville and this started before you were even on the council,” said Ward 3 Councilwoman Shani Warner.
Frazier leaves after serving just two years in a special election terms, but will also leave a 18 years-long legacy of serving on the council, which Mayor Candace Hollingsworth noted calling Frazier’s two-year term her “revival.”
“I cannot leave without thanking my family, the staff, my friends and the residents for all their support given over the years,” she said. “God bless you all.”
But the past two and four years were not all happy decisions and roses. There were contentions on the council as well as councilmembers were deemed racists, bigoted, were accused of having ulterior motives and accused of using the city council as a jumping off point for further aspirations.
“Ms. Frazier, I’d like the thank you,” said Hyattsville resident Shirley Fisher. “Because sometimes things did get a little contentious up here, but you never let your rhetoric show that and for that you deserve a thank you.”
During the course of the two meetings, several councilmembers and community residents thanked Frazier and Paschall for their work on the council, their dedication to the people they served, and the countless hours they put into the job.
Hollingsworth took time to recognize both former city officials, thanking Frazier for her many years of service and dedication and Paschall, specifically, for her work on legislation.
She gave Paschall a number of accolades, but commended his decision to step away. She said it is not easy for someone who loves a job so much to give up and she admired Paschall for doing so.
“There is something particularly mature and important about someone who chooses to step down from a role that they actually love,” Hollingsworth said.
Frazier was also thanked for her service several times over for her mentorship and work on the council. Though she returned as a new member in 2015, she brought with her years of previous experience on the council.
“If I had a fraction of Patrick’s passion and impact and Ruth’s tenure and dedication, I’d be a much better person and effective councilmember. So, that will be what I strive for in my own growth,” Ward 3 Councilman Thomas Wright said.
Moving forward into the next council, new Councilwomen Erica Spell and Carrianna Suiter, along with returning Councilmen Edouard Haba, Bart Lawrence and Robert Croslin all took their official oaths of office.
Paschall said he has high hopes for the new council moving forward.
“Looking forward, I am excited to see a really competent group of council members, both the ones that are up here and the ones that are coming in,” Paschall said. “We have a mayor who is really putting the city first and it taking this city new places as she builds relationships and really puts the city on the map in the region. And I think that is admirable work that we should all be supporting and it’s not on the front pages of the newspapers.”
Although Paschall is stepping away from the dais, he didn’t shy away from giving the new council advice, asking them to focus on sustainability in the budget, especially since the city has a history of passing deficit budgets, and he encouraged them to continue being a “voice of progressiveness and inclusiveness and diversity.”
Frazier also offered advice – stay polite and make Hyattsville a better place.
“I am so proud of the work that we have done over the last four years. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to do next,” Paschall said.
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