An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


These are the 10 candidates City Council will interview to replace Rep.-elect Smith-Wade-El

(Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Ten individuals have tossed their hats in the ring to replace Ismail Smith-Wade-El on City Council.

Smith-Wade-El, who served as council president, resigned the day before last week’s election in anticipation of winning his race for the 49th state House District, which he did. State representatives cannot hold another elective office.

Candidates had until Friday last week to submit a resume and letter of interest. City Council will interview them beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday in council chambers at City Hall. The plan is then to vote in a new member at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, just before the regular committee meeting that evening, which begins at 6 p.m.

Appointed City Council members serve until they are replaced in the next municipal general election. That will take place in November 2023, with the winner taking office the following January. Appointed council member are not barred from running to keep their seat, if they choose.

The 10 current hopefuls are as follows:

Ahmed Ahmed: Ahmed, a former refugee, works as assistant general manager at the Holiday Inn Lancaster and is a volunteer community organizer for Church World Service. He is a graduate of the city’s Neighborhood Leaders Academy, where he developed a welcome packet for new arrivals. He is a member of the Lancaster City Human Relations Commission and the Lancaster City Democratic Committee.

Liza Ong Ante: Ong Ante is a policyholder services representative for MWG Administrators, a division of the Morgan White Group insurance firm.

Tene Darby: Darby is a Lancaster City Democratic Committee member and its past chairwoman, the first Black and Latina individual to lead it. She is a Neighborhood Leadership Academy graduate, city Civil Service Commission member and founder of the SouthEast Times newspaper. She works as a medical assistant in the office of Dr. Jeffrey Yocum.

Tony Dastra: Dastra is an alternate on the city Planning Commission and secretary of the Neighbors United community group in northeast Lancaster. He recently began work at Lancaster Township as a public works and planning/zoning administrative assistant. He ran for mayor as an independent in 2017 and livestreamed City Council meetings as an independent service to the community until the city began doing so itself.

Andre Gilbert: Gilbert, a U.S. Navy veteran, is CEO of Gilbert Services Group. He volunteers at Crispus Attucks Community Center and serves on the board of the African American Cultural Alliance. He is a member of the NAACP Lancaster Chapter and the Lancaster City Democratic Committee.

Jeremy Hayes: Hayes directs Tenfold’s Housing Rights & Resources Center and manages the county’ Eviction Prevention Network. He serves on the Lancaster County Refugee & Immigrant Coalition.

John Hursh: Hursh is fiscal assistant for the Lancaster County Housing & Redevelopment Authority and is the treasurer for The Common Wheel’s board.

Tony Israel: Israel leads the Lancaster Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby. In 2018, he was a volunteer for the Congressional campaign of Jess King, now the city’s chief of staff. He works as a freelance photographer.

Philip Jones: Jones is a lecturer for the Globis Graduate School of Business, Japan’s largest graduate business school. He lived in Japan for 26 years and in China for two years, returning to the U.S. in July 2021. Until recently, he served on the board of Shine On! Kids, a Japanese nonprofit that serves children with life threatening diseases. He owns two Airbnb properties in the city.

Lewis Waltman: Waltman worked for 41 years for Donnelley Financial Solutions, retiring in January 2021 as senior vice president of operations. He was president of the Urban League board and served on the board of Goodwill and on capital campaigns for the Lancaster Chamber and Lancaster Food Hub.