New Carrollton, Maryland, has elected its first black mayor.
Phelecia Nembhard, who is also the first woman elected as mayor of the city, called it an impactful victory that she plans to use to continue the nation’s conversation around racism and policing on a local level.
“It’s time to serve the community at a higher level. We still have issues that we have to address,” she said.
Nembhard is also the youngest person to serve as New Carrollton’s mayor in a city that’s around 60% black.
Nembhard has been working to address hunger in schools since moving to the area in 1998.
She was written in and elected to serve on the city council in 2018 by parents at the schools where she volunteered.
They then voiced their support for her if she would consider running for mayor, an opportunity Nembhard said represented a unique chance to serve.
“I took it with grace and I went to just hit the ground running, just doing all that needed to be done,” Nembhard said.
She is also focused on supporting the youth and creating a space for them to learn and gather, she added.
Overall, Nembhard said her goal is to continue creating dialogue within the community while encouraging everyone to work together and to support equity.
“I believe in my capacity; I can make a change,” Nembhard said. “I can create awareness about the climate that we’re in to talk about police brutality, excessive force and that kind of thing. I’m in a position to make a difference.”