Hyattsville is a vibrant, diverse, walkable, arts-oriented city, with an old-fashioned sense of community. This is a dynamic, up-and-coming area, with tree-lined streets, large backyards, and beautiful historic homes. We have some of the last affordable neighborhoods in the DC Metro area. We have an enviable location, close to the nation’s capital, with impressive proximity to major roads, public transit, and trails, enabling us to travel easily throughout the region. Our residents have a strong commitment to social justice and we're working hard to strengthen the civic ties which bind us all together. We're about 10 years into a baby boom, with no end in sight. Hyattsville is an artsy, funky, scrappy, and welcoming community, and most people here are committed to keeping it that way. This is the place many of us have chosen to set down roots. Hyattsville is home.
I ran for office in 2011 in response to the factionalism I encountered on the Hyattsville City Council when starting a community garden. I've always felt a responsibility that if something is broken, it's up to me to fix it. I thought I could do something to help change that dynamic and I believe I have. It's been far from a smooth journey and I haven't done this alone, but over the past four years we have started to transform civic life in Hyattsville. A new level of cooperation and respect characterizes the interactions among our elected officials and staff. There is a new constructive and optimistic spirit here which people have started to notice. Before running for office myself, I spent decades volunteering on national and state level campaigns. I've found that the past four years spent focusing on my own neighborhood have been the most meaningful and productive years of my political life ... also, the most challenging. I have been as discouraged as anyone by the corrosiveness of the national political culture, but my work on the local level is a concerted and idealistic effort to change our political conversation from the bottom up. When I first ran for office, I emphasized that I was smart, tough, and hard-working. Those are the qualities I rely on in my professional life which I thought would have the most practical application to this new endeavor. Over the course of my first term, I discovered that I rely more on other qualities as a Council member. Tenacity is important, but compassion is essential. Seeing the humor in absurd situations is a critical and underrated skill. I strive to share information widely and to understand other viewpoints. Serving on Council is fundamentally about working as part of a team. The day-to-day work involves listening, learning, evaluating, and collaborating. We have made great strides in more effectively leveraging the talents and energy of our residents and finding ways to put our residents' skills to work for Hyattsville. My focus is on the future and I am very optimistic about what lies ahead of us.
Some of the accomplishments I'm most proud of from my time on the Council include:
Continuing to provide a consistently high level of service to residents, from police protection to trash collection to recreational events (and so many other things in between).
Supporting City employees by hiring strong ones who are expanding our capabilities, retaining others with proven track records of performance, giving them the tools they need to do their jobs effectively, making progress on fair compensation, improving morale, and recognizing the excellent work our City staff does every day.
Expanding our Spanish language communications and outreach.
Passing transgender-inclusive non-discrimination protections, becoming the first small jurisdiction in Maryland to do so.
Lowering the voting age for Hyattsville municipal elections to 16 in a deliberate attempt to foster a culture of civic engagement in our community. We are the second jurisdiction in the country to expand the municipal franchise in this way, but many other cities are considering following in our footsteps.
Adopting other election reforms designed to increase community engagement and turnout, including scheduling two days of early voting and increasing access to voting by mail.
Creating a full-time Senior and Disability Services Coordinator position, signaling a commitment to expand our services for these populations.
Facilitating smart development near our Metro stations and along the Route 1 corridor. Arts District Hyattsville, Busboys & Poets, Art Works Studio School, Vigilante Coffee, Pizzeria Paradiso, Mosaic by Metro, Post Park Properties, Shortcake Bakery, and Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center are just a few of the new projects that have come to Hyattsville in the past few years or are in the works.
Encouraging and helping Hyattsville residents make their homes more energy efficient through participation in the Small Town Energy Program.
Updating the City's charter to remove gendered language. I am no longer officially a "Councilman."
Addressing resident concerns in the wake of both real and perceived crises. Through revenue shortfalls, overdue audits, staff departures, and tragedies from Baltimore to Ferguson, I have shared with residents how our City is working to address these situations, learn from them, and prevent them from happening in the future. I have also listened to residents and shared their concerns with City staff.
Despite our record of success, there is still a great deal of work left to do in a wide range of areas. I am looking forward to the many things we will accomplish over the next four years and I know this will be a critical time for shaping Hyattsville's future. One priority that's near to my heart involves ensuring that all of our residents feel part of the greater Hyattsville community. I represent Ward 2, but I work on behalf of our whole community. We are all Hyattsville.
Our community is both a work in progress and it's an area which is coming into its own. People from beyond our borders are starting to notice that there's something special going on in Hyattsville. I have had the great privilege of being part of the collective efforts to transform this community into the wonderful place to live and work it is today. I've served the residents of Ward 2 and all of Hyattsville on the City Council since 2011 and I'm grateful to our community for re-electing me and allowing me to continue the work we've started.
Shani N. Warner