The College Park City Council celebrated Tuesday’s inauguration of two new members, Susan Whitney and Stuart Adams, and bid farewell to two five-term council members, Monroe Dennis and Robert Day.
The council also voted District 4 council member Denise Mitchell as mayor pro tempore, nominated by Mayor Patrick Wojahn.
Meeting for the first time in person since the COVID-19 pandemic only hours after the city hall opened, Dennis, who chose to retire this year after 10 years on the council, acknowledged the new building and a new council. Dennis also served as mayor pro tem for six years.
“Either this is a new era, or it is the beginning of a new chapter,” Dennis said.
Day, who lost in the Nov. 7 election to Adams, thanked his colleagues and the residents of District 3.
“I can say proudly today that during my time serving the citizens of College Park, we have made a huge difference,” Day said.
Wojahn presented Dennis and Day with plaques to commemorate their service on the council and with the city.
As Day and Dennis left the room, Adams, Whitney, Wojahn and the other council members were sworn in for the 2021-2023 term. The newly inaugurated group took their seats in the new room.
District 3 council member Adams addressed the room first, reminding residents of his enthusiasm for solving housing issues, working with the University of Maryland and creating sustainability in College Park.
“We need to take a distinct position on sustainability, continue with a lot of the great work that has been ongoing in our city, but ensure that we’re protecting our green spaces, we’re truly valuing the amenities that we have,” Adams said.
Whitney focused on creating a stronger sense of community among residents by holding events in neighborhoods and making the city more accessible and sustainable through the addition of bike lanes.
“It is through community that we light the way,” the District 2 council member said. She added that she looks forward to supporting the restorative justice process in the historically Black community of Lakeland in College Park that was damaged by urban renewal in the 1970s.
Closing the final council meeting of the year, Wojahn emphasized the importance of building College Park stronger than it was before the pandemic, working together and fostering equity.
“I know we continue to face a lot of challenges, but we are a strong community, and we will be resilient,” Wojahn said. “And I wish you all the best as we move into 2022.”