Greenbelt Gets First Black City Councilman

Courtesy of the NAACP | 11/8/2009, 9:18 a.m.

Emmett Jordan Elected to Greenbelt City Council

Emmett Jordan received over 1,800 votes for the Greenbelt City Council election, a tally that not only made him the first ever black city councilman but also the second highest ranking official-Mayor Pro Tem. "It's just amazing. It's just a reflection of all the good people in Greenbelt that helped me get to where I am right now," Jordan said. "I'm humbled by the experience." All five incumbents, as well as Silke Pope and Jordan were elected to Greenbelt City Council tonight.
Greenbelt voters were able to cast absentee ballots, use early voting, or vote at one of several locations around the city. The City Charter calls for the council to elect the mayor and mayor pro tem, but historically the two highest vote getters are named mayor and mayor pro tem, respectively, said City Clerk Cindy Murray. "Tonight's vote is just tremendous. Emmett Jordan is so qualified and I am looking forward to him being my right hand man. Or, rather, on the council he's my left hand man," said Mayor Judith Davis, referring to the council member's place on the dais. The unofficial results show that 2,399 people voted, which is 19.8 percent of registered Greenbelt voters. The 2007 election had a turnout of 17.8 percent of registered voters, and 18.4 percent voted in 2005. Davis received the most votes, a total of 1,857.

The second-highest vote getter was Jordan, with a total of 1,808 votes. Former Mayor Pro Tem Rodney Roberts received 1,709. Edward Putens received 1,678 votes, Konrad Herling received 1,647 votes; Leta Mach received 1,640 votes and Silke Pope received 1,389 votes. Newcomer Kelly Ivy, who ran in the 2005 and 2007 elections, received 1,192 votes and Che Sayles received 618 votes. Emmett Jordan - Courtesy Photo

The election numbers will be officially confirmed on Monday when the council members are officially sworn in. The past three terms, all five of the former incumbents-Davis, Roberts, Putens, Mach and Herling-retained their seats. "The unofficial election results show that it was a pretty robust and hard fought contest and I think it shows conclusively that skin color does not impact the prospects of any candidate. It's personal character, personal record and personal views," said Greenbelt resident Andy Carruthers.

In May, the council made an effort to increase the possibility of diversity stemming from a complaint to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union by increasing the number of council seats from the current five to seven, dividing the city into five voting precincts instead of the current four and adding early voting to the city charter. The voting precinct change splits precinct 13, which previously included Greenbelt East, in order to reduce the lines during voting. Greenbelt resident Dorothy Figlia took advantage of early voting for the first time this election. She said she was pleased with Tuesday night's election results.

"I think our council members have done a good job in the past, and at least what the new council members plan to do sounds good on paper," Figlia said. Some upcoming issues the new council faces includes construction of the new Greenbelt Middle School, bus route cuts in Greenbelt and whether or not to change the election year from its current odd numbered year to an even-numbered year to coincide with larger elections. "For me it's about who is going to produce results and who just wants the best for the community overall," said Greenbelt resident Niecie Gary-Lowndes, who also took advantage of early voting. "It's over and now it's time to get to work."