History made on City Council

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By Chris Sardelli

History was made at Lancaster City Hall on Wednesday when three new council members were sworn into office.

For the first time, council has three women serving at the same time, and this is also the first time that the majority of council’s members are black.

“This speaks well of this city and the county,” Mayor Joe Shaw said. “Let’s work together and exchange ideas for the betterment of the community.”

Friends, family and residents packed council chambers to see Linda Blackmon-Brace, Tamara “Missy” Green and Sara Eddins take office. Kenny Hood, council’s other newest member, was sworn in on Nov. 11.  

Blackmon-Brace, Green, Eddins and Hood were elected in the Nov. 4 general election.

Blackmon-Brace, Green and Eddins were elected for four-year terms. Hood will complete the remaining two years in the term of former, longtime Councilman Preston Blackmon, who died in August.

Shaw said the large turnout demonstrated how much people love the city and were excited about their new council members.  

“This is a moment they will never forget,” Shaw said. “We are looking forward to working together to improve the quality of life for all our citizens.”

Robert Davis, municipal court judge, swore in the three new  members.

The Rev. James Gordon, pastor of Warner Temple AME Zion Church, commented on how important the new council will be for the city.

“Lancaster has set the standard. Everybody has something to look up to,” Gordon said. “Change is good.”

Blackmon-Brace, 53, said she’s looking forward to following up on issues she talked about during her campaign, which include offering business incentives and reducing wasteful government spending.

“I feel great and excited. I thought it may not happen. I’m not supposed to be here, but I do believe in this city,” Blackmon-Brace said. “I will be a City Council person of the people, by the people and for the people. I’m looking forward to working with the new council members.”

Blackmon-Brace previously served on council for two years. She made an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Shaw as mayor seat in 2006. She defeated longtime council member Audrey Curry to win the District 3 seat in the November election.  

Green, 34, said some of the issues she wants to work on include attracting new businesses to the area, getting residents to become involved in the safety of the community and reviewing the city’s pay schedules.

“I’m excited and ready to go to work,” Green said. “I’m passionate to work for the citizens and work with them. I’m also excited to work on the things I ran on while I was campaigning.”

Green defeated Bill Sumner for the District 4 seat.

Eddins, 69, said she’s excited about getting to work for the city.

“My first priority is to listen and learn,” Eddins said. “This is a tremendous step for the city of Lancaster and I look forward to working with council. Diversity sometimes is the key.”

She said one of her top priorities is to examine the masterplan for the city’s infrastructure, with a focus on replacing aging waterlines throughout the area.

She said she’s also interested in bringing more jobs to Lancaster and would like to develop a city recycling program.

Eddins was unopposed in the Nov. 4 election. She now holds the District 6 seat previously held by Danny O’Brien, who didn’t seek re-election last year.

District 5 Councilman John Howard said council will face many challenges in 2009, and he expects most will be economic in nature.  As for the new council, Howard said change can be difficult, but he’s looking forward to the new year.

“I’ve always been a person who likes things to be constant, but change is good if change is positive,” Howard said. “Change is a part of life.”

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416