Four Seat Pleasant City Council seats are contested in September’s election while the incumbent mayor has no opposition.
Mayor Eugene W. Grant will run uncontested in securing his third term as mayor. Also running uncontested races are council members Aretha Stephenson (Ward 2), Reveral Yeargin (Ward 3) and Gerald Raynor Sr. (Ward 4). The election, which will decide terms to 2016, will take place Sept. 10 at Seat Pleasant City Hall.
Grant said just because he’s running unopposed doesn’t mean he will not campaign for votes. Grant’s focus in the next administration includes expanding broadband Internet access for residents and supporting existing initiatives such as his work in the City of Seat Pleasant-University of Maryland Health Partnership.
“My administration during my time has seen a number of successes and we want to continue to build on those successes as we build a strong foundation for the next mayor to occupy this seat,” said Grant, who added it was too soon to determine if this would be his last term.
Incumbent at-large council members Kelly Porter and Johnie Higgs Sr. are running to keep their seats against challenger James Wright, president of the Seat Pleasant Citizens Association. The two highest vote-getters are elected to the seat.
Porter said he wants to continue to advocate for the growth of a city farmer’s market, which will be run by the Seat Pleasant Community Development Corp. and could kick off before the end of July. He also wants the city to remain vigilant on enforcing city codes on property upkeep such as tall grass that needs to be cut.
Higgs could not be immediately reached for comment.
“I just want an opportunity to continue to serve the city,” Porter said. “This is my home. We started a lot of projects and it takes time for those projects to get off the ground.”
Wright said he wants to expand the 12-officer police presence in the community through resource-sharing with nearby municipal police departments such as Capitol Heights, District Heights and Glenarden.
“A secure community is a thriving community,” Wright said. “Also it helps to sell the community and the city to other stakeholders.”
Councilwoman Elenora Simms (Ward 1) is running to keep her seat against challenger Denise Akers.
Akers said she would like to start a jobs training program for ex-offenders and juvenile offenders in the criminal justice system in addition to a program where residents adopt senior citizens to take on trips to the grocery store and doctor’s appointments. Akers, who taught health education for six years at Suitland High School, currently sits on the board for the Seat Pleasant-University of Maryland Health Partnership.
“I came up in an era where everybody on the block knew each other,” Akers said. “Adults took care of adults, so that’s something I want to get back to.”
This will be Simms’ third term if she is re-elected. Simms said one of her goals if re-elected is to demolish three vacant homes on Martin Luther King Jr. Highway in between Eastern Avenue and Addison Road, particularly one that was damaged by fire and at one time had homeless people squatting inside. Simms wants the properties razed to make way for community-oriented development such as an ice cream parlor or doughnut shop.
Ward 5 Councilman Darrell Hardy is not seeking another term, leaving candidates Octavius K. Brown and former Seat Pleasant mayor Eugene Kennedy vying for the seat. Brown could not be immediately reached for comment.
Kennedy who served as mayor from 1994 to 2004, said he wants to revive an after-school program that he said once ran under his administration for 12 years and brought in University of Maryland, College Park, and Bowie State University students to tutor students.
“I’m planning on setting up a training program to train the children how to get jobs and how to keep jobs,” he said.