La Plata coun­cil sworn in, ready to be­gin work

New mem­bers take seats on town boards, com­mis­sions

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

Mem­bers of the new La Plata Town Coun­cil have of­fi­cially taken the oath to serve the citizens of the town and are get­ting down to busi­ness dur­ing their first week on the job.

Af­ter the “New Day For La Plata” slate swept the elec­tion on May 2, the Town of La Plata wel­comed a town coun­cil stacked with the first fe­male mayor, sev­eral women and two men, who are all ready for change in La Plata. Mayor Jean­nine E. James, Matthew T. Simp­son (Ward 1), Brent Fi­na­gin (Ward 2), Emily

Mudd Hen­dricks (Ward 3) and Paddy Mudd (Ward 4) were all of­fi­cially sworn into of­fice on Mon­day.

“Our coun­cil is en­er­gized and No. 1,” James said. “We have the vi­sion and we are anx­ious to get started ... It was an awe­some feel­ing hav­ing the gavel in hand and there was awe­some sup­port from the com­mu­nity.”

James said the town is “kind of stag­nant at this time,” but with her prob­lem-solv­ing skills and the help of coun­cil mem­bers who are pas­sion­ate about the town, they plan to get things mov­ing.

Mon­day’s swear­ing-in cer­e­mony be­gan with the na­tional an­them sung by Keith McGirt and went into the ap­point­ment of board and com­mis­sion ex-of­fi­cio mem­ber ap­point­ments.

As ap­pointed by James, the Mayor Pro Tem is Paddy Mudd. James said Mudd has the most ex­pe­ri­ence and it will be an easy tran­si­tion for her since she has pre­vi­ously served on the coun­cil.

Simp­son said he will be the ex-of­fi­cio on the La Plata Plan­ning Com­mis­sion and the board of the La Plata Town Cen­ter Cor­po­ra­tion be­cause of his strong back­ground in zon­ing, plan­ning and land use.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to re­de­vel­op­ing down­town La Plata and do­ing it in a way that is not only ex­pe­di­ent but also af­ford­able for the town and the de­vel­op­ers who would like to help,” Simp­son said. “It’s time to start putting the stud­ies that we’ve al­ready had done into ac­tion. We paid for enough of them. What’s the point of pay­ing for them if we just stick them on a shelf.”

Fi­na­gin said he is ex­cited for things to come, as he be­comes the ex-of­fi­cio on the town’s de­sign re­view board.

“I’m ex­cited to get to­gether with the de­sign re­view board to make some changes, adopt new reg­u­la­tions and re­view new pro­posed con­struc­tion,” Fi­na­gin said. “The DRB con­trib­utes to the aes­thetic as­pect of the town — in terms of signs, con­struc­tion, etc., but also keep­ing that small town charm. We want La Plata to be a com­mu­nity for all citizens to be proud to live in, proud to sup­port, proud to be a part of.”

Mudd Hen­dricks said she has pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence serv­ing on com­mit­tees for the town’s lo­cal parks, which will come in handy as ex-of­fi­cio on the parks and re­cre­ation board. She said the parks within town can be im­proved and it is time to keep the mo­men­tum go­ing so fam­i­lies can en­joy much of the green space of La Plata.

Paddy Mudd said the next four years will be in­ter­est­ing. “I look for­ward to change and pre­sent­ing a new way to look at things,” Mudd said.

Fam­i­lies, friends, dig­ni­taries and politi­cians gath­ered at town hall for the swear­ing-in cer­e­mony.

“They re­ally worked hard and they worked to­gether as a group and I think that made big dif­fer­ence,” said Charles County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Peter F. Mur­phy (D). “I’m so ex­cited that we have the first woman mayor in the his­tory of the Town of La Plata.”

Com­mis­sion­ers’ Vice Pres­i­dent Amanda Ste­wart (D) said, “I’m ex­cited that there are three woman on the coun­cil ... girl power.”

“It’s al­ways ex­cit­ing to see new blood and a sense of ex­cite­ment that is go­ing on in La Plata,” said Com­mis­sioner Ken Robin­son (D). “Ob­vi­ously they ran a very spir­ited cam­paign which con­nected with the com­mu­nity, and I think the com­mis­sion­ers are look­ing for­ward to work­ing with the new mayor and the new town coun­cil.”

Town Man­ager Daniel Mears said he is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with the new coun­cil as well.

“Our town staff has done a fan­tas­tic job at giv­ing the coun­cil a great com­mu­nity and a great base for them to work with and I look for­ward to see what comes in the com­ing months,” Mears said. “We have an op­por­tu­nity to re­visit is­sues and talk about the ser­vices that we pro­vide on a daily ba­sis, now with a new per­spec­tive. Hope­fully that will lead to new ideas in ref­er­ence to pro­vid­ing ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.”

STAFF PHOTO BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON Mem­bers of the new La Plata Town Coun­cil pose for a pic­ture af­ter be­ing sworn in May 8 at La Plata Town Hall. From left are coun­cil mem­bers Matthew Simp­son, Emily Mudd Hen­dricks, Brent Fi­na­gin, Paddy Mudd and Mayor Jean­nine James.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

The new La Plata Town Coun­cil was sworn in dur­ing a cer­e­mony at La Plata Town Hall on May 8.

Coun­cil­man Brent Fi­na­gin, Mayor Jean­nine E. James and Town Man­ager Daniel Mears held a town hall meet­ing to ap­point the new coun­cil mem­bers as ex-of­fi­cio mem­bers to town boards.

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