Larry O’Neal, who was named a poet laureate for the City of Havre de Grace in 2014, marked the swearing-in of the mayor and three City Council members Monday, following municipal elections earlier this month, with a reading of his poem “Start Again.”
“When life deals us a bad hand we will start again/for you see, things are never as bad as they seem,” O’Neal recited. “We wont give up; we will continue to dream/positive action is what it takes to win, because here in Havre de Grace, Maryland, we roll up our sleeves and start again.”
The City Council honored O’Neal, along with his co-poet laureate, Colleen Webster, in April of 2014. Councilman David Martin, who was re-elected to a third two-year term May 7, invited O’Neal to address the council Monday evening during Martin’s portion of period of the meeting reserved for remarks from council members.
O’Neal offered his congratulations to the election winners and the local citizens.
He encouraged people to come to Havre de Grace “because we truly, truly believe in working together, and we’re truly a community that stays together.”
Havre de Grace voters returned Martin to his seat, plus they gave Councilman Jason Robertson a second term and ushered Councilwoman Carolyn Zinner into her first term as an elected member of the six-person City Council. Zinner was appointed by Mayor William T. Martin last November to succeed former Councilwoman Monica Worrell ,who resigned as she took on a new position with APG Federal Credit Union.
“It really was a thrill [to be appointed], but this feels so much better and just so much different,” Zinner said of being elected.
Robertson, Martin and Zinner were the top vote-getters out of five candidates for council. Robertson earned the highest, 794 votes, followed by Martin with 756 and Zinner with 645; candidates Wynona Hilton-Stanley and Kirk Smith earned 384 and 282 votes, respectively.
Mayor Martin, who ran unopposed, won a third term with 911 votes, according to official vote totals presented Monday by George Deibel, chair of the city’s board of elections. They included ballots cast May 7 along with absentee and provisional votes counted after Election Day.
There were 1,076 ballots cast, out of 10,898 registered city voters, Deibel said.
The mayor and three winning council members were sworn in by Harford County Circuit Court Judge Paul Ishak.
The council then went into closed session to select a council president. Councilman David Glenn, the longest-serving member, was chosen to serve a third consecutive year leading his colleagues. He recently returned, earlier this spring, after recovering from surgery for prostate cancer.
Councilman James Ringsaker said he would “wholeheartedly endorse” Glenn for council president when the council returned to open session. The members voted 5-0 in favor of Ringsaker’s motion — Glenn abstained from voting.
“He’s a stand-up guy, so I’m proud to keep serving along with you,” Robertson told Glenn.
Glenn later told his colleagues that “I look forward to working with you and meeting the challenges that lie ahead.”
The mayor and council members thanked the voters for their support, congratulated colleagues who won, and they encouraged Hilton-Stanley and Smith to remain involved in city affairs.
“I just want to thank you for really showing people what Havre de Grace elections are about; it’s about service to the community,” Mayor Martin told Hilton-Stanley and Smith, who both attended Monday’s meeting.
Martin praised Glenn for his commitment to ensuring his council colleagues are informed and for maintaining clear communication with the mayor and his administration.
“It speaks to your service and the kind of man that you are,” Martin told Glenn.
Martin, who noted he was prepared to have an opponent this year, said he is “beyond humbled and honored” that he has been given two more years to lead the city.
He said he jokes with his staff that “you don’t really make friends” serving in his position and “more often than not, you have to tell people things they don’t want to hear.”
Martin stressed that the executive branch of the city is “not the feel-good branch of government,” but it is charged with enforcing laws passed by council.
“We try our best from this building to work in the best way that we can, that is fair, that is transparent as we can possibly be and honest as we can possibly be,” he said.
Martin said he has “a lot left in the tank” and is excited for the coming years.