BLADENSBURG, Md. (DC News Now) — People across Prince George’s County are mourning the loss of former Maryland senator and Prince George’s County leader David C. Harrington. He passed away on Monday, but his impact started in the town of Bladensburg as the first African-American mayor.

“It is such an honor to say I knew someone of that magnitude. He was our Nelson Mandela, because it was always the people first, it was always service first,” said Bladensburg Mayor Takisha James.

Harrington impacted many lives, especially during his time as mayor of Bladensburg from 1995 to 2002.

“He couldn’t have a clean and safe place for his two sons at the time to play. It motivated him to say you know what I’m not going to just complain about this, I’m going to run for mayor and change it,” said James.

The David C. Harrington Community Park is a testament to Herrington’s love for the town of Bladensburg. He was committed to seeing it built and it was named in his honor five years ago. Now the park remains as a permanent tribute to his memory and the legacy he leaves behind.

After his time as mayor Harrington went on to serve on the Prince George’s County Council. He later became a state senator in 2008, then returned to the county to serve as the President of the Chamber of Commerce until earlier this year. Before his death, he was working for Kaiser Permanente.

“When you talk about the legacy, I could just go on and on about what he did professionally, what he did personally. There’s just not enough time to express the depth of gratitude that we feel for him,” she said.

Tears began to flow from James’ face as she reminisced on the memories she had with Harrington. She described him as her mentor, and how she admired his dedication to always giving back to Bladensburg.

“No matter as I said what role he was in he was consistent about helping to lift up the next generation of leaders pouring into us mentoring us, sharing lessons learned, but also demonstrating leadership by really rolling up his sleeves and getting to work,” she said. “When you see someone of that magnitude who’s so humble, so personable, who still cares who knows about your child or your children, your spouse, and takes the time to not just check in on the work that you’re doing, but how you’re doing as a person that is humbling.”

The city is working to finalize plans to honor Harrington.