With little fanfare, Hyattsville City Councilor Nicole Hinds-Mofor (Ward 5) resigned her seat effective immediately early last week in an brief email to her fellow council members and city staff. Her announcement means that Hyattsville's Ward 5 residents will soon be without a veteran council member for the first time in more than a decade. Longtime Councilor Ruth Ann Frazier (Ward 5) earlier announced her intention to retire from council after her current term is up in May.
Hinds-Mofor works an an engineer with the Prince George's County Department of Public Works and Transportation. Born in Brooklyn, NY, she has lived in Hyattsville since 2000.
She was first elected to the Hyattsville City Council in 2005 during a special election to replace former Ward 5 Councilor John Lewis. She bested Geraldine Capehart, winning 55 percent of the vote, 66-52, to claim her seat.
"My family is involved in politics in New York, and we've always been politically active," said Mofor in an interview when asked why she got involved in local politics. "It was good timing. I had just finished grad school."
Hinds-Mofor held onto power with unopposed runs in 2007 and 2011. In a profile on Hinds-Mofor published on Patch before the 2011 election, she said that on Hamilton Street were her top priorities.
"I enjoyed it. It was definitely a learning experience, and I definitely made a difference," said Mofor as she reflected on her tenure with the Hyattsville City Council. "A lot of development took place while I was on council. We had a lot of different things going on, but I would say that development is one that comes to mind."
Over the last year, Hinds-Mofor has been notable more for her frequent absences than her attention to her legislative priorities. According to city council attendance records, she missed exactly half of the 42 council meetings held in 2012. Hinds-Mofor said that many of those absences were the result of medical complications arising from her pregnancy with her first child, Angelique, born this past November.
The Hyattsville City Council has an attendance requirement. Hinds-Mofor's 50 percent absentee rate in 2012 skirted the threshold necessary to initiate proceedings to remove members from the city council for extended absenteeism. According to the Hyattsville's charter, a two-thirds supermajority of the city council can remove a council member who has missed "in excess of 50 percent" of council meetings in a year, but only after a public hearing is held.
Hinds-Mofor was not the most frequently absent member of the Hyattsville City Council. That honor belongs to Councilor Carlos Lizanne (Ward 4), who has missed 22 out of 42 meetings held in 2012 a 52 percent absenteeism rate, according to attendance records. Lizanne, whose seat is up for election this spring, said he will not be running for re-election.
Though an official announcement has not yet been made, the city's charter stipulates that, because the vacancy was created within 150 days of the upcoming city elections, Hinds-Mofor's seat be added to that ballot and contested as a special election. Whoever wins her seat will would have to face election again in two years, after serving the remainder of Hinds-Mofor's term.