GAITHERSBURG – Several national controversies came up in discussion at Monday night’s meeting of the mayor and City Council, including a new anti-LGBT law in North Carolina.
During comments from the mayor and council, Council Vice President Michael Sesma shared comments from a recent discussion within the National League of Cities, an advocacy group that includes Gaithersburg.
Sesma, who serves on the NLC’s board of directors and executive committee, said that the NLC was concerned by a new law in North Carolina, which blocks localities from including LGBT people in non-discrimination ordinances.
“One of the main goals of the League of Cities is to advocate for greater control of local laws by municipal government,” Sesma said.
“One of the things this House bill in North Carolina does is that is supersedes any decision made at the local level. It overturned ordinances that had been in place in the city of Charlotte for close to two decades. It gives the state the authority to supersede any local ordinance, including minimum wage and anti-discrimination laws, which the state legislature might disagree with. North Carolina is not the only place where this is happening. This principle is of concern to every city in Maryland. We are the branch of government closest to the people.”
Also at the meeting, Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council issued a proclamation designating April 2016 Arab-American Month in the city in honor of Arab-American contributions to business, science and culture in Gaithersburg and throughout the country.
Samira Hussein, chair of the city’s Multicultural Affairs Committee, took to the podium during public comments to share a statement from Arab America, a digital media site specializing in news of concern to the Arab-American community.
“During the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, increased anti-Arab bashing has made our community a target for hate and bigotry,” Hussein read. “It is our intent to see more balanced coverage of Arab-Americans and their contributions during Arab-American Month.” Hussein said that Arab America would spearhead a campaign to respond to anti-Arab rhetoric on social media using the hashtag “#hummushaters.”
Mary Hoferek, a resident of Rabbit Road, requested that the city begin the process of installing a speed bump near the street’s four-way intersection, citing concerns from residents about pedestrian safety.
“We have many, many pedestrians, people who like to walk in the neighborhood, a lot of people who like to walk to their dogs,” Hoferek said. “Some drivers come through this intersection and I don’t think they even tap their brakes. Certainly not a lot of people do it, but enough do it that we’re concerned.” Hoferek said that users of a local neighborhood listserv had voted overwhelmingly in favor of installing a speed bump.