By Joel Hall
Come Jan. 1, Riverdale's Ward 1 will have a new representative, while incumbent Ward 3 Councilwoman Wanda Wallace will enter a third-consecutive term on the city council.
In Tuesday's election, Cynthia Stamps-Jones defeated incumbent Ward 1 Councilman Rick Scoggins, while Wallace defended her seat against Veverly Brooks and Stan Byars.
In the Ward 1 race, Stamps-Jones garnered 297 votes, defeating two-term Councilman Scoggins, who had 222 votes. In the Ward 3 race, Wallace held on to her post with 278 votes, compared to 208 votes for Brooks, and 36 votes for Byars.
On the day of the election, voters expressed concern about the city's decision to build it's Riverdale Promenade [formerly known as the Town Center] on top of what used to be Travon Wilson Park. Some voters expressed the need for development, while others expressed bitterness over the city's decision to build on top of the park.
"We're upset because they [the mayor and city council] tore it [Travon Wilson Park] up," said Minnie Thompson, a 20-year Riverdale resident. "We used to walk in that park everyday. Who destroys a park?"
Robert Morgan, 77, a Riverdale resident since 1982, however, said he believes the Riverdale Promenade will be a positive addition to the city. "I think that's a wonderful thing," said Morgan, in reference to the Promenade. "I think it will bring the city together more. More people will stay here and spend their money as opposed to going to Mt. Zion [Road]."
Ultimately, citizens voted for candidates who expressed vocal support of the Riverdale Promenade. Stamps-Jones, who was defeated by Scoggins four years ago, described her feelings after her victory over Scoggins as "euphoric."
"Right now, I am just speechless," she said. "I'm ready to get to work and move our city forward. I appreciate everyone who supported me, but I am ready for them to roll up their sleeves and get to work with me.
"Instead of talking about it, we are going to be doing the business of the city," she continued. "You are going to be seeing it instead of just seeing all those abstentions [on the part of Scoggins] or voting no, with no reason."
Over the past year, Scoggins has been a vocal critic of the city's decision to build the Riverdale Promenade on top of what used to be Travon Wilson Park. Stamps-Jones believes that in voting for her, citizens have expressed their support for the project. However, she said she is dedicated to expediting the construction of a replacement city park on Wilson Road.
"I think the citizens support the Town Center [Promenade], but they really want to see some movement on the [new] park," she said. "I'm definitely going to continue to support the Town Center, and my main focus will be the park. We'll probably start a brick campaign. I think that's a great way for people to be a tangible part of something that is new. I want to get the citizens involved."
Scoggins could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Wallace, who will maintain her position as Ward 3 councilwoman, will become the council's senior-most member as of January. She said she is honored to be chosen to represent the ward for a third time. "It feels great," Wallace said. "The voters came out and showed who they trust in terms of governing. I feel good because we have people in office who have a true vision for the city. There is so much that has to be done."
Wallace believes the election may usher in a new chapter of prosperity for the city. She believes the city now has "a team" that can focus on bringing new jobs, businesses and development to the area.
"Now, we can bring more jobs here ... now, we can bring more businesses here," Wallace said. "You are looking at the new park [on Wilson Road] that will be here. You are looking at the new Town Center [Promenade] that will be up in eight months. We can really focus on what we need to do."
Wallace said her immediate goal will be to continue working on the Wilson Road park project and help add a hotel component to the Riverdale Promenade. In the future, she would like to help redevelop the Upper Riverdale Road corridor, she said.
Brooks and Byars could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.