PHOTO: Mayor Miller (1954-1972) welcomes the city’s first exchange student from Jequie, Brazil in 1963. Photo courtesy Historic Takoma.
TALE OF TAKOMA • DIANA KOHN
Bruce Williams is one of 22 who have served as Mayor of Takoma Park in the last 125 years. When he steps down from the Mayor’s chair this November, Williams will have been Mayor for eight of those years. First elected to the Council in 1993, he served 14 years (7 terms) under Mayors Ed Sharp and Kathy Porter before assuming charge of the Council.
Only two other Mayors match or exceed Bruce Williams’ record of public service. By far the longest-serving Mayor was George Miller. Appointed to a vacant Council seat in April 1953, he was elected mayor the following April and served an astounding 19 years until his unexpected death in July 1972. He spent his last years overseeing the construction of the city hall at Maple and Philadelphia Avenues, only to die before the building was officially dedicated. That building forms the central core of the current city hall and community center.
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Appointed to succeed Miller, John Roth served as Mayor for 8 years. Added to his 14 prior years on Council, he ties with Bruce Williams for total years of public service, and both trump Miller’s 20 years.
B. F. Gilbert, Takoma Park’s founding developer and first mayor. Photo courtesy Historic Takoma.
From 1890 through 1954, beginning with Benjamin Franklin Gilbert, 14 men served as Mayor. The two who served longest were Samuel S. Shedd, from 1894-1902, and local merchant Oliver Youngblood, who spanned the war years of 1940-1948. Takoma Park assumed City status in 1948 and instituted a more professional government. Following the long-serving Mayors Miller and Roth, five more have held the office: Sammie Abbott, Stephen Del Guidice (who left for a seat on PG County Council), Ed Sharp, and Kathy Porter, the first woman to hold the office, and Williams.
With Williams officially retiring, Seth Grimes and Kate Stewart, both currently serving on Council, have announced their candidacies. Election day is November 3rd. The election schedule is here.
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Mayor Bruce Williams announced his decision at the July 20 city council meeting.
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This is going to be one hell of a city election.