Joseph Solomon, a resident of the Kirkwood Apartment complex off of Ager Road, has become the first candidate to file to run for one of Ward 5's two Hyattsville City Council seats.
Solomon, a native of Rochester, NY, has been involved in local politics since he was teenager. Between the ages of 16 and 18 he was the chair of a Rochester area city-county youth council called Youth Voice, One Vision which encouraged teenagers to become better citizens through civic engagement. His duties included judging grant applications and distributing roughly $10,000 annually in grants worth up to $1,000 to local youth groups for service projects like constructing gardens in underdeveloped neighborhoods.
After attending Rochester's School of the Arts, Solomon attended Morehouse College, a prestigious, historically African-American, all-male liberal arts college in Atlanta. There, he received a degree in computer science, graduating in 2007. Since then, he was hired by the consulting firm Accenture, where he does information technology consulting. The company enabled him to pursue a masters in computer science from Rutgers.
According to Solomon, his masters thesis examined how government agencies can work more efficiently through the application of information technologies.
Those technologies are already being put to use in many federal and large state bureaucracies, but Solomon said most municipalities, including Hyattsville, are behind the curve. He advocated for the city to make a larger investment in potentially cost-saving information technologies and to explore how the city could implement a work-from-home policy for some jobs.
"In most cities, the department with the largest technology budget is the police department," said Solomon in an interview. "If we could capture some of those same technologies, many of them could be used to reduce our budgets. It's time to use technology to do more than just catch criminals."
Solomon, age 27, has lived in Hyattsville for almost a year. He is single, and rents an apartment in the Kirkwood Apartment complex near the West Hyattsville Metro Station. His neighborhood is home to the most heavily hispanic census block in Hyattsville.
"Ward 5 is a very diverse community. There's a large group of Spanish speaking individuals, a large group of African-Americans," said Solomon. "It's definitely a huge sort of melting pot area within the city. I think the challenge in my race will be to reach out to those communities, so that all citizens of Ward 5 know that they have a voice on the council."
Long time Councilor Ruth Ann Frazier (Ward 5) has said she will not be seeking re-election. It was Frazier's seat which would have normally been the only one from Ward 5 on the ballot. However, as a result of the resignation of Councilor Nicole Hinds Mofor (Ward 5), ward residents will be
The Ward 5 candidate with the most votes will take Frazier's seat. The runner up will take Mofor's seat.
So far, on day three of the filing period, at least one candidate has registered to run in each ward, except for Ward 4. So far no races are competitive, officially. A number of candidates are expected to file over the next few days, including incumbent Councilor Eric Wingard (Ward 1), and another Ward 5 hopeful, Clayton Williams.