Campaigning continues for Riverdale mayor post

By Greg Gelpi

With the runoff election for Riverdale mayor set for Nov. 25, the campaigning is in full swing.

Political newcomer Phaedra Graham finished atop the Nov. 4 election, totaling 411 votes, as compared to runoff opponent and incumbent Mary Lee's 260 votes.

Graham, 38, campaigned on a platform of change, wanting to resolve complaints against the city's police department regarding unequal treatment of black employees.

"I will actively and intensely campaign until the 25th," Graham said. "I want the voters to know that the race is still in progress. One more time, I desire that all voters come back to city hall and cast their vote. I want Riverdale voters to set another milestone by coming back for the runoff election on Nov. 25."

Graham works as an English teacher at Mundy's Mill High School, and this will be her first run at public office, she said.

She has a three-prong plan that she will work on if elected, she said. She wants to improve the police department, devise an economic development plan and develop more youth activities and programs.

After complaints and rumors circulated regarding discrimination at the police department, "public trust" must be restored, Graham said.

Calling in an outside civil rights investigator, no discrimination was found in the police department, Police Chief Mike Edwards said.

"These officers are happy right now as far as I know," he said.

As far as complaints from the public, Edwards said that in 30,000 contacts with the public the department received only 19 complaints. All of the complaints were looked into with most being dismissed.

Mayor Lee, 69, continues to go door-to-door campaigning, she said.

"We're not working real hard, but we have been contacting people," she said.

She wasn't surprised by the results of the initial election, saying that most of the city is black.

"I'm depending on a lot of black people to support us this time," Lee, who is white, said.

Lee has served as mayor since 1990, and said she has accomplished many things since her initial election.

Under her leadership, the city's government grew from 30 to 138 employees, which includes increases in the police, fire and public works departments, Lee said.

If re-elected, she will continue negotiating the purchase of land, so that the city can build a city hall, she said.

Lee contends that she is well qualified to keep her position having attended city council meetings and knowing how government works.

Rounding out the results in the initial mayoral election, Kelley Jackson received 195 votes and Sherri Jefferson received 106.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 25 at Riverdale City Hall.