Hyattsville Election ’21: Interview with Sherlyna Hanna, Ward 3 candidate

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Sherlyna Hanna

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 with four of Hyattsville’s six Ward Three candidates, namely Adam Alfano, Sherlyna Hanna, Alexander Houck, and Jimmy McClellan.

Unfortunately, Ward Three candidates Chuck Perry and James Wigley did not respond to requests for interviews before Monday morning, when the first of Route 1 Reporter’s candidate interviews published.

Route 1 Reporter’s interview with Hanna is below. 

In these interviews, each candidate was asked 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 Sherlyna Hannah, one of six candidates running for council in ward three in all, Hyattsville has 20 candidates running for five ward seats and the mayor’s office. This interview and others with the candidates are intended to be a broad introduction to their candidacy and their approach to local government policy and policymaking. Sherlyna, How are you doing this morning?

Hanna:
I’m doing good. What about yourself?

Theis:
I’m doing all right. So let’s dive right in: irst question. Tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you do and how did you come to live in Hyattsville?

Hanna:
Okay. So my name is Sherlyna Hanna. I moved to Hyattsville about two and a half years ago to attend the illustrious Howard University to obtain my master of social work. I’m someone who wanted to go to Howard all my life, but due to financial obligations, I wasn’t able to attend for undergrad. So I kind of set my mind on it to come to Hyattsville, to attain to obtain a massive social work degree from Howard after I graduated undergrad. So when I moved here I was actually deciding between two different apartment complexes. One was in Hyattsville, one was in Silver Spring. but when I came to Hyattsville, I was welcomed with open arms and there were so many opportunities available. And that is the main reason why I chose Hyattsville over other parts of Maryland. Currently I am a therapist at synergy family services, and I’m also a fellow with Ignite National, which is an organization focused on empowering women to run for office and become civically engaged.

Theis:
Okay. Second question. Why are you running for Hyattsville City Council?

Hanna:
Why am I running for Hyattsville city council? So the reason I’m running now specifically is because of the lack of women representation that I noticed when I was looking at the people who were running for city council and in general, I’m running because I want to serve as an advocate. I want to be able to listen to the community’s needs and make informed decisions. And I believe that the work I’m doing as an advocate with social work directly correlates to the work that I can do as a city council member. So that’s the main reason why I’m running, but I’m running now specifically to have some women representation on the council.

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

Hanna:
The most pressing issue right now for me would be voter participation in local elections in the last election, only 11% of registered voters in Ward Three voted. And that was very concerning to me. So I plan to actively engage people specifically our young people. ‘Cause a lot of people don’t know, 16 and 17 year olds can vote in municipal elections. So engaging our young people in elections engaging the community elections and also providing resources for appointed boards and commissions throughout the state of Maryland, specifically in Hyattsville as well, because there are so many opportunities to become civically engaged and to have a say in what is going on with the community. And there isn’t just a lot of awareness about those opportunities. So I really want to push those already established policies that emphasize community engagement in policy. but that’s the most pressing issue in my opinion right now.

Theis:
Next question. What is a unique skill or perspective you would bring to the job if elected?

Hanna:
Wow, I have so many, but the first and most important one would probably be my age. I believe I’m the youngest person running. so being gen Z, I believe I provide a very unique perspective with regard to empathy. Just understanding situations and being able to listen without being judgmental. Also with regard to technology, I basically grew up with technology. So there are a lot of ways that I can incorporate technology into the work I’m doing. And then also educate others on City Council with ways to incorporate technology into the work they’re doing as well. So being gen Z, I definitely would provide a fresh perspective to city council since I believe I might be the youngest, but I’m not a hundred percent sure.

Theis:
Next question, there are six candidates for council in ward three, which means there’s a significant chance. The winner will receive less than half of the votes cast. If you were to win, how, if at all, would it change your approach to policymaking if most of the voters in your ward did not vote for you though?

Hanna:
I, in general, I believe that I am striving to be a servant leader. So that means having those conversations with people who disagree with me, advocating for those policies that may not align with my personal values, putting the community first. So if I recognize that my bias is coming into play, I would check myself and put the community first, listen to the needs and make informed decisions based on what the community wants and what the community is saying.

Theis:
My last question, many hot button issues in our national political discourse are at their heart local issues, such as policing, education policy, or debates over renaming landmarks and parks. How do you identify politically in a national context, such as progressive or conservative, democratic, Republican socialist, or libertarian or any other term under the sun and how do those values inform the policies you would pursue here in Hyattsville?

Hanna:
Okay. So I consider myself a progressive Democrat. As I said before, as a servant leader, I recognize my values. and I advocate for my values. but when it comes to a community position like city council, I believe it’s so important to put those values on the back burner for the betterment of the community. So if I am advocating for a specific issue and I recognize that, Hey, maybe I’m advocating for it because I want this issue to go away and not necessarily the community wants this issue to go away. I would focus more on how the community plays a role into that specific policy. so as a servant leader, it’s always important to me to listen to the community’s needs, understand the community’s needs and advocate for those needs and not let my personal needs get in the way of that.

Theis:
Excellent. Well, uh, Sherlyn at this point, I don’t have any further questions I’d like to thank you very much for joining me this morning for this conversation. To all the viewers out there in route one, reporter land. Thank you very much for watching along with us and get out there and vote. Have a good day, everyone.

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