“Ward 7 Councilor Jackie Shornak succeeded Ward 6 Councilor Brenda Pelham as Hopewell’s mayor on a 4-3 vote at City Council’s organizational meeting Jan. 3.
Ward 4 Councilor Jasmine Gore was elected vice mayor for the second time on a 5-2 vote after a nomination of Ward 1 Councilor and incumbent Christina Luman-Bailey for that position failed 3-4. Gore’s prior term as vice mayor lasted from 2013 to 2015.
Tuesday night’s meeting was the first for the new council, which sees city activist Janice Denton in the Ward 5 seat previously held by Wayne Walton.
Denton, who described her first time on the other side of the Council Chamber’s desk as “exciting,” wasted no time jumping into municipal decision-making, putting forth the nominations for both Shornak and Luman-Bailey.
“I’m not one to shy away. I think we’ve got to work together,” said Denton before the council convened in closed session.
Working together was a theme also sounded by Shornak, who after taking her new seat as mayor offered a brief speech outlining her priorities as council’s leader.
“I’m hoping this year we’re going to make some changes and be a unit of one instead of seven,” she said. Later, she expressed the hope that “with the guidance of this whole team we can make our city bigger and better.”
Outgoing mayor Pelham also emphasized the desire for council to work together, voicing her oft-repeated maxim, “Let’s agree to disagree.”
Outgoing vice mayor Luman-Bailey adopted a more skeptical tone in her departing comments, saying simply, “I hope people stay true to what they’ve stated this evening.””