Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Takoma Park pays tribute to Bruce Williams as new Mayor, Council are sworn in

Takoma Park residents - and even some neighbors from Montgomery County and across the District line - crowded into last night's Mayor and Council meeting to pay tribute to retiring Mayor Bruce Williams. A fixture in City elected office since the early 1990s, Williams received several awards, a proclamation from the new Mayor and Council, and many an emotional speech from speaker after speaker.

City Manager Suzanne Ludlow declared the evening "the end of an era for Takoma Park." Williams, who was first elected as the Ward 3 councilmember in 1993, was the first openly-gay elected official in the region including Maryland, the District and Virginia.

If it was the end of one era, last night was the beginning of another for new Mayor Kate Stewart and two new councilmembers, Peter Kovar (Ward 1) and Rizzy Qureshi (Ward 3). Qureshi, a first-generation American citizen, described his swearing-in as a "surreal moment" he and his family could not have imagined.

His colleague, Fred Schultz (Ward 6), welcomed the new blood on the Council. "It's also not a bad idea to keep some old guys around, just in case," the longtime councilmember added to laughter.

Stewart named Ward 4 Councilmember Terry Seamens as Mayor Pro Tempore.

The new Mayor herself opened her remarks by thanking the many "strong women" in her life, including her mother, sister, mother-in-law, and Rep. Ellen Story of Massachusetts. "I'm very fortunate to be elected Mayor at this time in history," she said. "We have a lot of work to do."

That work, she said, would include continuing to make the City welcoming to a diverse community, increasing energy efficiency, and providing affordable housing.

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