Mount Rainier, Brentwood, Riverdale Park, University Park voters hit the polls

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Consider this Route 1 Reporter’s paean to the elections of the Prince George’s County Route 1 corridor’s smaller towns. Amid an historically-large field of candidates in Hyattsville this year, I was unable to provide the type of coverage I’d like for the other races in the corridor. Still, voters in Mount Rainier, Brentwood, Riverdale Park all have elections that are coming to a close today, May 3, 2021, while University Park will vote the next day. Below, a rundown of the races:

Brentwood

In Brentwood, a rhetorically contentious election pits two slates of candidates against each other. The Fair Leadership slate sees incumbent Mayor Rocio Treminio-Lopez court votes alongside council hopefuls Stefan Leggin, Quianna Taylor and Mary Vechery. The “Brentwood United” slate is led by Vice Mayor Tonya Harrison-Edwards, who is running for mayor alongside incumbent Town Councilors Marcus Monroe and Alicia Tarr. With five City Council members running for four open seats, one of the candidates will be going home without an honorific.

Parking is a hot-button issue in Brentwood, where new mixed-use development is bringing increased traffic to town streets near the Rhode Island Avenue corridor. A debate has simmered over the best course of action: institute permit parking for the entire town, or on a more-selective basis.

Treminio-Lopez, in an April candidate forum, said the town should study the problem, but called for permit parking across the entire town.

“We need to have universal permit parking over the whole town, otherwise you will move the problem from one block to the other,” said Treminio-Lopez.

Harrison-Edwards echoed calls for a parking study, but was not as declarative in her proposed solution. Instead, she said any proposed parking regulations be put to a town referendum for approval.

“Some residents are for it. Some residents are not,” said Harrison-Edwards. “In the next administration, I would like to bring it to the finish line.”

Treminio-Lopez and Harrison-Edwards have also differed in their approach to long-drawn-out plans to covert the old Brentwood fire department into a new town hall. While both candidates support the project, Treminio-Lopez was opposed to the hiring of a lobbyist to help secure funding for the project from the state legislature, saying the town should have relied on its local delegates to bring the money home. Harrison-Edwards backed the move, saying extra help was needed to nail down the funds.

“We might have different approaches, but the vision is the same to be able to complete the project,” said Treminio-Lopez during the April debate. “When my next term is done, I would like it to be completed.”

“I vow we will continue to move that project forward to completion,” said Harrison-Edwards during the debate. “We reached out to someone to help us because we did not have the wherewithal to get it done in town.”

Mount Rainier

Will voters elevate Celina Benitez from Mount Rainier City Councilor to Mayor? Or will her Council colleague Scott Cecil pull off a rare write-in campaign victory?

Cecil and Benitez have both been busy campaigning, both online and offline, in the week running up to the election.

Benitez was first elected to Mount Rainier City Council in 2017 to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of former City Councilor Tracy Hadden Loh. She won again two years later. Benitez’s campaign has leaned heavily into her work to promote the Census, her more-tenured experience on City Council, and her volunteering at community food drives during the pandemic.

Cecil was first elected to Mount Rainier City Council in 2019, running unopposed to replace former City Councilor Shivali Shah. Cecil’s campaign leaned heavily on his reputation as an activist on City Council, highlighting his support for police reform measures and attention to city administrative issues.

Separately, Jarrett Stoltzfus is running unopposed for Mount Rainier’s Ward 2, and incumbent City Councilor Luke Chesek is running unopposed in Ward 1.

Riverdale Park

In Riverdale Park, where the entire seven-member Mayor and Town Council is elected every two years, all but one of the races are uncontested. In Ward Five, incumbent Councilor Colleen Richardson is competing for votes against Karen Mejia, an activist involved in organizing rent strikes among predominantly Hispanic tenants of deteriorating apartment complexes in the city.

University Park

University Park, with elections for Town Council members representing Wards Two, Four, Five and Six, has two officially-competitive races with the election concluding May 4, 2021. In Ward Two, hopefuls Mary Gathercole and Joseph Schultz are running to replace departing Town Councilor Joe Schultz. In Ward Five, hopefuls David McGaughey and John Tabori are running to replace departing Town Councilor David Caskey. In Ward Four, Nathaniel Morgan is running unopposed to replace departing Councilor Linda Verrill after Renaud Beauchard withdrew from the race. In Ward Six, incumbent Martha Wells is running unopposed to hold on to her Council seat.

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