Beltway Profile: Hyattsville City Councilmember Paula Perry

By Danielle Kiefer

As someone who has lived in Hyattsville for over 40 years, councilmember Paula Perry has seen the city change over the years, both for better and worse.

Both of Perry’s parents were raised in or near Hyattsville, so she has been around the city her whole life, raising two children here and now helping to take care of her grandchildren. After joining several city committees, she first ran for council in 1999, when she was unhappy about certain issues in Hyattsville.

“I didn’t like what I was seeing, so instead of just sitting back and complaining, I decided to get involved,” Perry said.

One of the major changes that Perry has seen in Hyattsville is the development of new businesses and restaurants along Route 1. However, according to Perry, the biggest issue facing the city right now is a shift in the priorities of the city council members themselves.

“[The] council is not as committed to working with residents,” Perry said. “They think their main concern is just making policy.”

“There are also a few council members who have bigger aspirations to move up politically, and it’s obvious they’re just using it as a stepping stone.”

Perry opposed many of the council’s recent decisions, including non-citizen voting, 16 and 17-year-olds being able to vote, and most notably, Hyattsville’s status as a sanctuary city. According to Perry, these decisions were made, “to enhance political resumes.”

Other council members disagree on the purpose of the legislation.

“The point of the sanctuary city legislation is to codify what already is a longstanding practice that says in the city of Hyattsville,” councilmember Patrick Paschall said. “We don’t inquire about one’s immigration status, and we don’t share immigration status with anyone including the federal government.”

While Perry’s opposition to such issues may make her unpopular with some residents, she remains dedicated to representing those in her district. One of the highlights of her career was the city’s lighting upgrade, which she has pushed for since joining the council 18 years ago. The city completed the first phase of the upgrade in February, improving lighting around Hyattsville’s Metro stations.

“The thing that I’m most proud of is just being able to help people, even if it’s just being a sounding board,” Perry said.

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