New City Council

Newly elected to Lancaster city council from left: Amanda Bakay, Xavier Garcia-Molina and Jaime Arroyo talk during an interview at LNP Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. When Bakay, Garcia-Molina and Arroyo are sworn in, Lancaster will have perhaps the youngest, most-diverse City Council in its history.

Jaime Arroyo, Amanda Bakay and Xavier Garcia-Molina are eager to get to work.

In January, they will be sworn in as the newest members of Lancaster’s City Council. The three prevailed in the Democratic primary and were unopposed in the general election.

Arroyo is 31, Bakay is 36 and Garcia-Molina is 25. Together with incumbent Councilman Ismail Smith-Wade-El, who just turned 30, they will make up City Council’s first-ever millennial majority.

Minority representation on council will be high as well. Four members will be Hispanic: Arroyo, Garcia-Molina and incumbents Janet Diaz, 53, and Pete Soto, 61. Incumbents Smith-Wade-El and Faith Craig, 61, are black.

Garcia-Molina is gay and a co-founder of Lancaster’s LGBTQ+ Coalition.

Reflective of city

In an interview with LNP, the three newcomers said they see their youth and diversity as reflective of Lancaster.

“I think representation is the key part,” Garcia-Molina said. Lancaster’s population is on the younger side — median age in the city is 31.6, according to the U.S. Census — so “we should have a City Council that leans on the younger side.”

And Lancaster is undoubtedly diverse. Its population is about 40% Hispanic and 14% black, the Census says. There are roughly 50 languages spoken by School District of Lancaster students.

Arroyo’s background is in business development, Garcia-Molina’s is in social work, and Bakay worked in banking before becoming director of operations at the Lancaster Science Factory.

Accordingly, Arroyo is looking forward to working on sustainable economic growth, while Garcia-Molina is interested in improving police-community relations and services to the homeless, especially LGBT youth, who are at higher risk.

Bakay said she’s looking forward to digging into city finances, and helping the public at large understand them.

The trio succeeds outgoing council members Chris Ballentine, John Graupera and president James Reichenbach.

Reichenbach will take office in January as Lancaster’s treasurer. He said he thinks it’s healthy for a community to have regular infusions of new leadership.

Of Arroyo, Bakay and Garcia-Molina, he said: “They bring a lot to the table.”

Soto, who is in the middle of his second term, will be the new council’s longest-tenured member.

He said he welcomes “a new generation taking the helm” and is looking forward to fresh ideas and different perspectives.

Arroyo, Bakay and Garcia-Molina embrace inclusiveness, whether it’s making the city fully accessible for older people and those with disabilities, or revising City Code to eliminate a gender bias that assumes certain roles are filled by a “he” or “him.”

They said their experiences will keep them grounded and sensitive to the consequences of their decisions on council.

“Not only are we going to be young and we’re going to be diverse,” Arroyo said, “I think we’re going to be people who get things done.”

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