A Glimpse into the Local Government Advisory Committee’s Quarterly Meeting
The Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) to the Chesapeake Executive Council made its first visit to Delaware this past March, meeting in the Town of Laurel. LGAC had the pleasure of experiencing the Eastern Shore by taking an interactive dive into the Town of Laurel itself, and engaging with a panel of local mayors. During this quarterly meeting, annual elections were also held.
Each year LGAC elects its new Chair and Vice Chairs for the participating jurisdictions including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, as well as an At-Large member. This year’s LGAC Executive Committee is comprised of a diverse group of elected officials, listed below:
Pennsylvania’s Vice Chair: Ed Bustin
Ed Bustin has served as Bradford County, PA’s Commissioner since 2015. He is an avid community leader volunteering in positions from firefighter/EMT to varsity boys’ soccer coach. (http://bradfordcountypa.org/commissioners/)
District of Columbia’s Vice Chair: Daniel Chao
Daniel Chao is a former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner of Washington, DC’s district 6B07. Born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, he is now a 17-year DC resident who currently lives with his husband Jeff and their rescue dog Lucy.
Virginia’s Vice Chair: Jasmine Gore
Jasmine Gore is the Mayor of the City of Hopewell, VA. She is the second 26 year-old to sit on Hopewell’s City Council and is the first woman and African-American elected to represent Ward Four. She is one of LGAC’s newest members, appointed in 2017. (https://hopewellva.gov/jasmine-gore-mayor-ward-4/)
At-Large Vice Chair: Donovan Phillips Jr.
Don Phillips is a dedicated council member of the Town of Laurel, DE and is a forerunner in the town’s redevelopment process. He also served with the US Army in Vietnam and owned, and is now retired, from the Phillips Men’s Shop Inc. (https://www.laurelredevelopment.com/who-we-are/)
LGAC Chair: Ann Simonetti
Ann Simonetti is a former council member from Marysville Borough, PA. She has served on LGAC since 2004, and has worked within local governance since 1999. Ann is also a skilled motorcyclist.
Maryland’s Vice Chair: Bruce R. Williams
Bruce Williams is the former Mayor of Takoma Park, MD and with that, became the first openly gay elected official in the mid-Atlantic region. He was first appointed to LGAC in 2009 and has served as both Chair and Vice Chair of the committee. (https://www.chesapeakebay.net/)
Members and invited guests gathered at Abbott’s on Broad Creek and were welcomed by Secretary of the DE Department of Natural Resources, Shawn Garvin. At-Large Vice Chair, Don Phillips, invited Mayor John Schwed and members of Laurel’s Redevelopment Center to share Laurel’s history and priorities including Laurel’s current redevelopment project entitled: “The Ramble.”
The Ramble is a visionary plan for central Laurel along Broad Creek, which focuses on projects rebuilding the town’s residential, community, and natural areas. The idea behind The Ramble seeks to foster community engagement. The Laurel Redevelopment Center (LRC) has created several engaging community activities such as its Annual Watercolors event. This is a one day festival-like celebration where members of the community are encouraged to collaborate in order to paint murals onto local watermelon trucks. Don Phillips arranged for members and guests to take a closer look at Laurel by taking a tour around the Ramble. Members were able to view the villas, “Laureltown”, and the LRC itself.
Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley of Cambridge, MD and Mayor Jake Day of Salisbury, MD also joined Mayor Schwed to discuss the history and priorities of their cities. The mayors discussed their plans for incorporating environmental health processes, redeveloping specific city sites, and overall what makes their cities special in terms of community engagement. The mayors hoped that these discussions would cultivate a new habit of elected officials working together across state lines.
The March 2019 LGAC meeting proved to be a huge success and set the standard for future meetings. Members hope to see more local elected official engagement in order to gain a better understanding of the localities they spend time in as they host meetings around the Chesapeake Bay watershed.