Hyattsville Mayor outlines 35 racial-equity policy goals for city

Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth poses for a photo.

Michael Theis/Route 1 Reporter

Former Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth.

Shortly before Hyattsville City Council unanimously approved a resolution committing itself to enact policies defending black life and undoing the effects of systemic racism, Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth published a blog post outlining a series of policies the city should pursue to accomplish an anti-racist agenda.

“As Mayor of the city of Hyattsville, I believe I have had some great successes. I’ve been spending the last few days combing through what has been — until now — a nondisclosed agenda. By sharing, I am inviting you to join me as we work unapologetically to secure black futures,” wrote Hollingsworth. “The risk is that you will piss some people off but know that your legacy — whichever you choose — will be protected by those who love you. I hope you love me, too.”

In passing its June 1, 2020, resolution in defense of black lives, Hollingsworth has already accomplished the first item on the list. The move was necessary, Hollingsworth wrote, because it’s a “reminder of what you have committed to doing,” and it’s a way for residents to hold their government to account.

But the 35-point policy agenda also calls for funding of “healing circles” for black people, implementation of participatory budgeting for the city, a warning-first policy for traffic violations, a relaxing of the permitting requirements for public spaces, and the removal of price escalation for fines and tickets, among the first several listed.

The full blog post can be read here. But the internet is a fickle beast, and for posterity, Route 1 Reporter is republishing below Hollingsworth’s list of policy objectives and justifications without edits:

  1. Adopt a resolution committing to enacting policies that explicitly address the effects of systemic racism for Black people. Why? A resolution is a reminder of what you have committed to doing; it is a way for the government to be accountable to its residents.
  2. Fund healing circles for Black people. Why? Mental health and collective healing led by and for Black people is a priority.
  3. Implement participatory budgeting for the municipal budget. Why? Community control helps ensure investments in initiatives and programs that speak more directly to community needs.
  4. Mandate a warning first approach for moving violations; implement technology solutions that support this approach. Why? Black people have disproportionately more exposure to the criminal legal system which can, at times, begin with a traffic stop.
  5. Relax permitting requirements for the use of public spaces. Why? Permitting processes can inhibit Black and Latinx communities’ engagement with public spaces or create an avenue for targeting for citations on misuse.
  6. Remove unfair price escalations in fines and tickets. Why? Price escalations, in some cases 400% of the original fine, criminalize poverty and inability to pay.
  7. Remove incarceration as a penalty for municipal code infractions. Why? Quite simply, there are no current municipal code infractions worthy of incarceration.
  8. Advocate for the legalization of recreational marijuana in the State of Maryland. Why? Marijuana arrests create unnecessary exposure to the criminal legal system and often results in punishments for Black “offenders” that are disproportionately harsher than their white counterparts.
  9. Require that all newly hired police officers reside within a 5-mile radius of the City. Why? Establishing residence in the City where you enforce the laws creates a system of accountability by proximity and allows consistent engagement with community residents to breakdown instances of implicit bias.
  10. Convert school resource officers to off-premise school-community partners. Why? School resource officers create additional opportunities for unnecessary engagement with law enforcement. While there can be some gains in perceived safety or community-school relationships, such partnerships should be developed without reliance on in-house police staff to enforce school rules.
  11. Increase investments in community services consistent with increases in law enforcement on a per capita basis. Why? Communities are safe when there’s an investment in robust recreation, arts, and civic programs.
  12. Prioritize street and road repair by severity and location, weighting locations in predominantly low-income and/or majority Black and Latinx areas more heavily. Why? Walkability and quality of infrastructure contribute to appraisal values of housing. Black communities are typically undervalued in relation to homes with similar characteristics. Lower property values result in loss of wealth for Black and Latinx families.
  13. Install pedestrian-activated traffic control devices at all intersections on State and County roads. Why? Walkability and quality of infrastructure contribute to appraisal values of housing. Black communities are typically undervalued in relation to homes with similar characteristics. Lower property values result in loss of wealth for Black and Latinx families.
  14. Continue to invest in workforce development and job training programs for unemployed residents, particularly returning citizens, to begin a pathway into municipal government employment. Why?Government service agencies often provide stable jobs with good benefits. Preparing residents to take on these positions offers portable skills that can help them secure living wage jobs wherever they go.
  15. Integrate cultural competency assessments in the hiring of all municipal employees. Why? You cannot implement a culturally competent and equitable policy agenda with staff whose biases prevent rational thought.
  16. Urge moderators of community listservs, Facebook groups, and neighborhood watch groups to prohibit the posting of photos or videos of alleged “suspects” of any crimes. Why? Community groups (in-person and online) can create their own rules. That said, allowing the posting of photos and videos of individuals not arrested or convicted of a crime creates a climate of racial profiling and vigilantism.
  17. Urge moderators of community listservs, Facebook groups, and neighborhood watch groups to develop rules preventing the use of hate speech and/or racial profiling in posts. Why? Community groups (in-person and online) are often the front door to a community/City. The communication practices should reflect the community ethos.
  18. Advocate for mandatory Spanish-language instruction for all students beginning as early as Pre-K and no later than 6th grade. Why? As Spanish-speaking populations increase, organizations feel a business need to hire bilingual employees. Black applicants who did not receive foreign language instruction are rendered noncompetitive for positions requiring language proficiency.
  19. Ensure grade-level proficiency in math and reading for all students. Why? Does this really need an explanation?Positions in skilled trades are in high-demand, but often require certification exams. Ensuring grade level proficiency allows all students to be able to qualify for skilled trade programs should they opt-out of post-secondary education.
  20. Create a program or partnership that provides high quality, early childhood education to all 4-year olds. Why? The demographics of public schools do not reflect the demographics of the community. A high-quality Pre-K program will ensure that all students entering Kindergarten will have received quality instruction necessary to be successful in a full-day academic environment.
  21. Conduct a disparity study of home values in the City of Hyattsville from 2008–2020 by location and create and/or advocate for policies that return investments to homeowners in predominantly Black and Latinx communities. Why? We know that homes in Black communities tend to be undervalued until there is a shift in the racial makeup of a community. We should quantify the assets lost to homeowners in predominantly Black and Latinx communities and identify creative ways to return investments to those communities.
  22. Develop policy and/or incentive programs to support the conversion of multi-family dwellings to solar energy. Why? Inhabitants of multi-family dwellings are more likely to be Black or Latinx. Absent requirements mandating the affordability of housing, solar energy will allow for a reduction in housing expenses for residents and, therefore, increase disposable income.
  23. Enact policy and/or incentive programs that result in occupancy of commercial leased space to Black-owned businesses. Why? Social isolation of Black people in gentrifying communities is a result of the lack of visibility of Black-owned businesses, arts, and culture, in addition to the demographic makeup of the resident population.
  24. Collect data on racial demographics of all commissioned public art in the City, require the use Black artists on all public art projects until such time that Black artists are adequately represented (not less than the population represented in Prince George’s County). Why? The social isolation experienced by Black people in gentrifying communities can result in the erasure of culture and identity.
  25. Enact policy and/or incentive programs that result in the increased quality and affordability of multifamily dwellings. Why? Inhabitants of multi-family dwellings are more likely to be Black or Latinx. Housing should not be affordable because it is in poor condition.
  26. Automatic vote-by-mail for all registered voters. Why?Enabling the full participation of all residents in the electoral process helps encourage a more representative democracy.
  27. Implement public financing of local elections. Why?Enabling the full participation of all residents in the electoral process helps encourage a more representative democracy.
  28. Create a local government/campaign training program for Black and Latinx residents. Why? Enabling the full participation of all residents in the electoral process helps encourage a more representative democracy.
  29. Support repeal of prohibitions on campaign contributions for Prince George’s County elected officials or support expansion of prohibitions to all jurisdictions in the State of Maryland. Why? This policy disadvantages participation of Prince George’s County officials in the statewide electoral process.
  30. Provide credit education and repair workshops for adults. Why? Improve the ability of Black people to receive access to capital.
  31. Host legal clinics that assist residents in challenging property assessments, establishing living wills and estates, and petitioning for expungements. Why? These clinics will allow for residents to reduce their property tax burden (and therefore increase disposable income), protect their assets, and rid themselves of negative records that can prevent employment.
  32. Create and fund individual development accounts for all Hyattsville residents under age 18. Why? Black and Latinx individuals are more likely to be underbanked than their white counterparts. Individual development accounts can help establish early banking relationships (and savings) for all families.
  33. Conduct a disparity study (if necessary) in order to implement priority minority-owned business procurement. Why? Minority-owned businesses should have fair representation in municipal contracting.
  34. Require that not less than 30% of municipal contracting ($) is conducted with Black-owned businesses. Why? Black-owned businesses should have a fair share of municipal contracting.
  35. Support repeal of TRIM (Tax Reform Initiative by Marylanders). Why? TRIM is built on a legacy of racism to avoid financing the public school educations of Black students and has perpetuated historical underfunding of the community’s needs.

Editor’s note: Route 1 Reporter is normally a subscriber-supported website. However, in service of the public discourse, this article is being kept outside the paywall.

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