Members of the public and city council members applauded as College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom opened the city’s first in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic Monday night.
“We all made it through,” the mayor told the audience. “We’re getting through it.”
Motley Broom, an attorney by profession and the first Black woman to lead the city as mayor, was sworn in last year just weeks before the virus swept the nation, shutting down public gatherings and thrusting new, unforeseen responsibilities on local officials.
“When City Hall closed, I didn’t even know everyone’s name in the building,” Motley Broom told Fresh Take Georgia. “I’ve been approaching the job of being mayor as one of service to make sure that we are doing right by our employees, our residents, and making sure that they are heard and that everyone has the opportunity to participate in this great city.”
Although council meetings have resumed at City Hall, visitors, employees and officials are still required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. Some seats were blocked off to maintain social distancing.
Nevertheless, residents appeared eager to converse with familiar faces who were in attendance.
The mayor and several other officials acknowledged the need to continue balancing public health and government business.
“It’s uncharted territory in so many different ways, and it’s very important for us to be able to be as candid and as honest with all of our stakeholders as possible about that,” Motley Broom said.
Ward 1 Councilman Ambrose Clay welcomed the return of in-person meetings, while urging those present and watching online to get vaccinated.
“It feels really good to be back, and I’d like to encourage everybody out there who has not gotten their shot — there is a delta variant; it spreads faster,” Clay said. “It’s a good idea to get your vaccination and make all of us safer.”