by Corilyn Shropshire and Tyisha Manigo
Apr. 24, 2003
A community center in the often-overlooked city of Landover Hills crowns the agenda of at least two candidates in the upcoming May 13 municipal elections.
Incumbent Mayor Lee P. Walker and newcomer Sheila Skinner, who is running for the Ward 1 council seat, maintain that the facility--six years in the making and a dream not yet realized--would put the community nestled between Bladensburg and New Carrollton "on the map."
"It takes money," said Walker. "I'm just so concerned about our young people not having a place to go."
He said he plans to ensure that funds to build the center would be obtained from a variety of sources in his next term.
Skinner jumped into the race recently with Walker's encouragement after attending several countywide meetings with him.
"It needs to be put in the forefront to see that this is a wonderful community and we work together," she said. "I'm proud to live here."
The mother of eight was reticent to run at first--she juggles studying for her bachelor's degree with running The Children's Connection child care center and tutoring on the side.
But she said she can guarantee that the concerns of her constituents will be well represented.
"I have a big mouth," she said.
Incumbent Jeannette Ripley, who has served on the City Council on and off for 18 years, is running against Skinner for the Ward 1 seat.
"I like the community involvement," Ripley said.
The College Park code enforcement supervisor said she often uses information gathered from her job to help inform officials of projects that can be used in Landover Hills. For example, this is how she helped the town get free bus shelters.
"Lots of times when I see things going on here, ... I use that to bring ideas back to the town," Ripley said.
She added that she supports annexation to help increase the town's tax base and obtain a community center.
"A small little town like ours isn't going to get [a community center]," she said. "There's no place to put it. We need the communities around us."
Richard Shipp gained his seat representing Ward 3 two years ago after three people wrote his name on the ballot in an uncontested race. "Maybe one of my neighbors liked me," he said, chuckling.
Shipp counts among his greatest accomplishment the recent blockage of the intersection of Route 450 and 72nd Avenue. Several fatalities prompted Shipp and his colleagues on the City Council to act.
"There hasn't been a fatality since," he said of the blockage, which was erected about seven weeks ago.
Shipp said he plans to continue addressing crime and diminishing vacant housing. He is also hoping that despite a statewide budget crunch, the city will be able to hire another part-time police officer.
Life in Landover Hills, said Shipp, is overwhelmingly positive. He noted that his attendance record at council meetings is stellar.
"We don't have any monumental issues," he said. "I want to make Landover Hills the best possible place to live."
Uncontested two-term Mayor Lee P. Walker said he has more than 35 years of experience working with people and community programs.
"The quality of life has improved steadily since I've been here," he said. In addition to the sound barrier along Route 50 shielding Landover Hills residents from noisy traffic, Walker said one of his many feats has been to promote the installation of bus shelters in the city.
"I established the first Landover Hills Mayor's Scholarship Program," he added, in reference to the yearly award provided to local students heading for college.
The construction of a veterans' memorial in the city couples with the community center to round out Walker's platform.
"I'm going to do the best I can to make this a reality alongside the others who are working with me," he said of the two projects.
Gary Rowe is running unopposed for the Ward 2 City Council seat.