Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin appointed Michael Hitchings to Martin's former seat on the city council Monday. The appointment was unanimously approved by the other five council members.
Martin announced the appointment on social media over the weekend and then confirmed Sunday night he planned to name Hitchings to the council seat that became vacant when Martin was sworn in as Mayor on May 18.
Hitchings, who ran unsuccessfully last year for the Harford County Board of Education to represent County Council District F which includes Havre de Grace, previously served on the city's planning commission and then was "bumped up" to the board of appeals, Martin noted.
With council members Fred Cullum and John Correri no longer on the council, "I lost, like, 60 years of experience" in planning and zoning issues, Martin explained Sunday. Cullum and Correri lost bids for re-election in the May 5 city election where Martin was elected mayor and Monica Worrell and David Martin, no relation to the mayor, unseated the two incumbents..
Although Hitchings lost the school board race, he won every precinct in Havre de Grace within county council District F, which means "he's kind of got like a mandate, in my mind," Martin said.
"I've known Mike for many years and I know his commitment to the community," Martin said, adding that Hitchings is a soccer coach and swim coach and has children in elementary school.
"I wanted to get a fresh perspective [for the city council]," Martin said of Hitchings.
His new council colleagues enthusiastically welcomed Hitchings, praising his commitment to the city and his hard work in a variety of activities.
"It is very reassuring to have an individual of the caliber of Mike Hitchings," Council President Steve Gamatoria said. "We welcome you and we look forward to working with you."
Councilman David Glenn said Hitchings has been "one of the invaluable volunteers of the Havre de Grace community," noting he has an "impeccable" resume that includes an engineering background and a recent master's degree.
"Without a doubt, Mike Hitchings is the right choice," Glenn added.
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Martin said he wanted to choose someone who will put the residents first, ask questions and not be a "rubber stamp."
Hitchings, who is 38 and moved to Havre de Grace in 1991, has a master's degree in engineering from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor's degree from St. Mary's College of Maryland.
Hitchings is also in the PTA, helped set up Meadowvale Elementary's Spring Fling and "is just a general supporter of all things Havre de Grace," Martin said.
"He has got a Havre de Grace heart and to me, that is the most important characteristic that anyone in that seat can have," the mayor continued. "Welcome to politics, Mr. Hitchings."
"It is an honor and privilege to sit here and represent the citizens of Havre de Grace," Hitchings said.
He said the role is one he wanted since he moved to the city, where he graduated from Havre de Grace High School and said he was inspired by one of his teachers, Don Osman.
"He [Osman] inspired me to follow that motto that is on our high school," Hitchings said about the high school's motto: "Enter to learn; Leave to serve."