Hyattsville Election ’21: Interview with Oliva Lopez, Ward 2 candidate

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Oliva Lopez

Hyattsville’s 2021 election season is here, and with 20 candidates running for five ward seats and the mayor’s office, it may be the biggest election the city has ever seen. All week long, Route 1 Reporter will be introducing you to as many of the candidates as possible in a series of video interviews. Over the past week, Route1Reporter has interviewed 15 of the 20 candidates running. Today, we unveil the interviews for the candidates in the race for Ward Two: Incumbent City Councilor Robert Croslin and challenger Oliva Lopez.

Route 1 Reporter’s interview with Lopez is below. 

In these interviews, each candidate was asked the same six questions. The questions were not shared with the candidates beforehand. The questions are also fairly broad, providing candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves and describe their approach to local government policymaking. 

Hyattsville’s election season concludes May 11, 2021. 

Theis:
Hello. My name is Michael Theis, editor and publisher of Route1Reporter.com. I’m here today with Oliva Lopez, one of two candidates running for council in Ward Two. In all, Hyattsville has 20 candidates running for five ward seats and the mayor’s office. This interview and others are intended to be a broad introduction to the candidates and their approach to local government policy and policy making. Let’s begin. Oliva, how are you doing today?

Lopez:
I’m great. Thank you so much for having me.

Theis:
Excellent. First question. Tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you do and how did you come to live in Hyattsville?

Lopez:
Well, I’ll start first with what I do for a living. I work for a philanthropic organization that has a number of programs to help communities in the United States sort of achieve equity of opportunity and economic development. And I’ve been very glad to be part of part of that work. And so I’m hoping that I can bring some of that experience and skills to this, to this to the city council of Hyattsville. And I came to know Hyattsville through as I think a lot of people who ended up in Hyattsville through friends that recruit them to the neighborhood who are just such wonderful ambassadors and advocates for Hyattsville. I came to visit her friend and and then as we were looking for a place to call home, fell in love with Hyattsville, and then she sort of kept an eye and then eventually were able to move.

Theis:
Okay. Then second question. Why are you running for Hyattsville city council?

Lopez:
Well, as I mentioned I, I, I fell in love with high when I first visited. I felt that it was a very welcoming and inclusive community that felt like home and reminded me of the place where I grew up, where all the neighbors talk to each other, know each other, help each other, and it just felt very welcoming. I grew up in Mexico, so I also really appreciate having all the, the, the lovely restaurants around here and sort of again, feeling very much at home. And so again, I think that as the city continues to grow, I want to make sure that I’m part of sort of the, the team of people that is steering Hyattsville. And I hope that there continues to be opportunity for all and to be a very welcoming and inclusive place. And again, and I hope that some of the work experience I’ve had can also be something that I, I bring to Hyattsville and then help create more, more opportunity for all of our neighbors.

Theis:
Okay. Third question. What is the most pressing issue facing Hyattsville right now and what policies would you pursue to address it?

Lopez:
I think development. I think Hyattsville, again, it’s, it’s a wonderful community is very welcoming and inclusive. And I think that being, making sure that as we continue to grow, that there is affordable housing, that there is different types of options for housing. And in terms of sort of policies that I would would that I would champion again, as this ability to make sure that we are, we are developing in a smart way, that we are inclusive, that nobody gets displaced. And I’m very interested in how we are going to implement the strategic plan for housing

Theis:
Fourth question, what is a unique skill or perspective you would bring to the job if elected,

Lopez:
Community organizing. I’ve been involved in several campaigns and that’s something that I love. you get to talk to any of us, talk to people and really understand where they’re coming from, what are their concerns what is their vision for the place where they live? And so I really look forward throughout the course of this campaign, and if elected, to continue to do that and to continue to work with my neighbors to sort of implement that vision of Hyattsville. again also as someone who grew up in Mexico and, and Spanish is my first language, I’m really looking forward to creating more opportunities for our Spanish speaking neighbors to be more involved in, in, in Hyattsville civics, and, and creating opportunities to do that, whether it’s with young parents and children or creating programs where there’s opportunity for different generations to interact with each other. That’s something that I really look forward to.

Theis:
Okay. Fifth question, almost all of the city council races this year are competitive, including your own. Why should people vote for you?

Lopez:
I think I respect the work that of the mayor and the current and past city council members. I think they’ve done a really wonderful job of making sure that Hyattsville is a great place to live. And I, what I bring to this, again, is perhaps a slightly different perspective energy, again, and sort of experience and skills that perhaps could be useful to this council. And just lots of new ideas. Again, I think everyone has done a wonderful job and I think also with, with new leadership, I’m hoping that it’s also a time for new faces as well.

Theis:
Last question, many of the hot button issues in our national political discourse are at their heart local issues. And I’m talking about such issues as policing education policy or debates over renaming landmarks and parks. How do you identify politically in a national context, such as democratic, Republican, socialist, libertarian, or any term under the sun, and how do those values inform the policies you would pursue here in Hyattsville? Can we pause for a moment? Uh, sure.

Lopez:
Related to my job, so, okay, great. I guess I would identify this liberal, but basically what I want to make sure is that in a divided environment, like the one that we live in today is I always want to look for the good in people and look for common ground and consensus. And so even though I identify as liberal, what I always want to do is also just make sure that I’m appealing to common humanity and that we bring people together. Sometimes labels are not as helpful. Um,

Theis:
Okay. Then would you agree that perhaps one stance on, or one’s political affiliation, could be a barometer for where they stand on certain local issues – or at least an indicator?

Lopez:
I think they can definitely be an indicator, but again, as you mentioned, I’ll, I’ll all issues being local. I think sometimes when you try to sort of put people in categories or, you know, there might be a very sort of particular situation where you might end up sort of creating your own path or your own opinions. So obviously they’re there, like with everything they’re sort of indicators, but again, once they’re confronted with a very specific situation, what matters is sort of the, the conversations that you have with others and how you arrive at policy decisions.

Theis:
Excellent. Well, Oliva, at this point, I don’t have any further questions I would like to thank you very much for taking the time to to speak with me in this interview and to my to the people watching along over at home. Uh, thank you very much for watching along, and if you live in Hyattsville, get out there and vote, have a good day, everybody.

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