La Plata council sworn in, ready to begin work
New members take seats on town boards, commissions
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.
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.