Maryland town elects first black mayor
In July, Cambridge, Md., residents elected a new mayor: Victoria Jackson-Stanley, the first African-American and first woman to hold the position in the city’s history. Jackson-Stanley’s election comes just 40 years after an uprising between black residents and white police officers gained national headlines, baring the city’s racial struggles to the world. In a campaign that focused on issues rather than race or gender, Jackson-Stanley, also a social worker, defeated two-term incumbent Cleveland Rippons by 152 votes. American City & County talked with Jackson-Stanley about her historic win and how the eastern Maryland community is ready to move forward.
Q: What do you think your historic win means for a city that has, for years, been plagued with racial tension?
A: I believe the community was ready for a change. I believe that they saw in my candidacy an opportunity for healing from all of those past ills, and I see [that] the overwhelming majority of the community [is] ready now to put that past behind us — not to forget it but to live up to our fullest potential now and move forward for the future of our community. My message of developing a city for the potential that it will give our children was something that resounded to many people. We have a rich history. It’s a beautiful community, and the people of Cambridge see that we have enormous potential and they want that potential for their children.
Q: What are some of the most critical issues facing Cambridge, and how will you begin to address them?
A: One is better stewardship of our city finances. One of the first things myself and our city councilmen [will call for] is an independent and comprehensive audit of all of our city finances. Once that audit is complete, we’re going to make sure the members of the community have that information presented to them either [through] a public meeting or published in our local newspaper, [or] a variety of ways. We’re going to make sure our community knows that we’re good stewards of their money. Second, government accessibility. We want to have a city Web site that is user-friendly, that will put the best foot forward for our city. Our commissioners will have e-mail [so residents] will know how to contact [them].
The thing closest to my heart is developing more programs for our youth. I’m going to work diligently to have a commission on children and youth where [they] are actually part of that commission so they can start planning recreation programs [and] things that will be of interest to them.
Last [are] the environmental concerns. We’re [on] a peninsula surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay and [its] tributaries. I believe in preserving our beautiful community as much as possible. One of the things that I am going to be initiating within the first three months is a study conducted by our Department of Public Works on the cost of curbside recycling. All of the goals are attainable, but we have to have cooperation. We’re asking the citizens of our fair city to get involved, be active [and] continue to exercise their voice. A silent majority will never change things.
Q: How has your role as Deputy Director of the Dorchester County Department of Social Services prepared you for your new role as mayor?
A: Social workers must know how to deal with a variety of people. I am going to come out of this relationship trying to make a positive out of every situation presented [to] me.