by PABLO ROA
Over the last few months, political news at the national level has focused on the 2016 presidential election, which is still over a year away. But the 2016 election is not the only political contest on the horizon, as state and local governments around the nation will hold elections this month.
The City of College Park will hold mayoral and City Council elections Nov. 3. For the first time in over two decades, the mayor and all City Council positions will be contested in the election.
College Park residents from Districts 1 and 4 can vote at Davis Hall, located at 9217 51st Ave. while residents of Districts 2 and 3 can vote at City Hall, located at 4500 Knox Road. Both polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There are plenty of candidates facing off in Tuesday’s election, including two candidates who are vying for the mayoral race and 16 candidates running to fill eight City Council positions. If you plan on voting in Tuesday’s elections, here is more information on each of the candidates, starting with those in the mayoral race:
After six years at the helm, current College Park mayor Andy Fellows is stepping down and two candidates are running to take his place: District 4 council member Denise Mitchell and District 1 council member Patrick Wojahn.
Mitchell has been a city councilwoman for six years and mayor pro tem since 2011. Mitchell, a graduate of Rutgers University and the University of the District of Columbia, has lived in College Park since 1975.
Some of Mitchell’s objectives as mayor would be to closely monitor the city’s budget and taxes, as well as increase pedestrian safety through all parts of College Park. If Mitchell wins the election, she will be the first African-American woman mayor of College Park.
Competing against Mitchell is Wojahn, an eight-year College Park council member. Wojahn is a community organizer currently working as Director of Government Relations at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
As a member of the council, Wojahn established a community listserve and started the College Park Community Foundation, which provides thousands of dollars to local charitable causes. Wojahn also served on Equality Maryland’s board, a civil rights group dedicated to protecting the LGBT community.
Wojahn obtained a certificate in local government leadership from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and graduated from the Prince George’s County Citizens Police Academy.
If Wojahn is elected, he will be the first openly gay mayor in College Park history. Wojahn has lived with his husband in north College Park for 12 years.
Candidates: S. M. Fazlul Kabir, Christine Nagel and Cory C. Fitzgerald Sanders.
Kabir has served as a District 1 Councilman for two terms and is the director of technology at a local software firm. Prior to serving on the council, Kabir was a four-term secretary of the North College Park Citizens Association (NCPCA). Kabul currently teaches at the University of Maryland and has a doctorate degree from the University of Manchester.
Nagel previously served on the council from 2009 to 2011 and has been a member of several College Park boards and committees, including the NCPCA, the Quality of Life Committee, and Meals on Wheels. Nagel holds a degree from Towson University and earned her law degree from the University of Baltimore.
Sanders began his career in government as an adviser to the mayor of Tallahassee, Fla. He serves on the College Park Aging-in-Place task force and is the president of the College Park Neighborhood Association. Sanders has a degree from Florida A & M University and an MBA from Excelsior College. He is also currently enrolled in the Masters certificate program at Georgetown University.
Candidates: Daniel C. Blasberg, Jr., P. J. Brennan, Vivian M. Conway and Monroe S. Dennis.
Blasberg has served College Park and the county as the amateur radio coordinator for the Office of Emergency Management, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service and the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. He was the senior advisor and deputy chief of staff for a Maryland State delegate in Annapolis and has lived in College Park since 1999. Blasberg is currently a director of the Berwyn District Civic Association.
Brennan has served on the city council for two years and has been active with the Neighborhood Quality of Life, Public/Pedestrian Safety and Community Building initiatives. Brennan is a graduate of the University of Maryland and holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from University of Maryland University College.
Conway has lived in College Park for seven years and is a board member for the Re-entry Program for Returning Citizens. She also serves as the Lakeland Community Neighborhood Watch Block captain. Previously, Conway worked for the Prince George’s County Board of Education from 1996-2002.
Dennis settled in the City of College Park in the mid-1990s and became involved with the Lakeland Civic Association. Dennis is an incumbent councilman and looks to be elected to his third term on the council.
Candidates: Ryan T. Belcher, Robert W. Day, Robert J. McGeney, John B. Rigg and Stephanie E. Stullich.
Belcher graduated from the University of Maryland earlier this year with a double degree in government and politics and environmental science. Belcher served on the university senate and is an alumnus of Gonzaga High School in downtown Washington, D.C.
Day is running for re-election in the Council and has served on a wide variety of boards and committees over the last 14 years. Prior to serving in the Council, Day was the President of the College Park Estates Civic Association, Chair of the Rent Stabilization Board, as well as a member of the Noise Control Board and Advisory Planning Commission, among others.
McGeney is an elementary school teacher and volunteers for the Red Cross in Prince George’s County. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in education and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Education Policy, Planning, and Administration from The George Washington University.
Rigg has lived in College Park since 2007 and has served as President of the Calvert Hills Citizen’s Association for the past three years. He is a volunteer paramedic and holds master’s degrees in Public Administration, with a focus on Urban and Regional Affairs, and in Health Administration. He currently directs a policy office in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Stullich has been a City Council member for eight years and previously served as the president of the Old Town Civic Association and on the Committee for a Better Environment. She is a co-chair of College Park’s Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee and works at the U.S. Department of Education.
Candidates: Mary C. Cook, Oscar E. Gregory, Alan Y. Hew, Dustyn Burkart Kujawa.
Cook moved to College Park after working as journalist in the Middle East and has served the city as a Councilmember, Advisory Planning Commission Chair, Veterans Memorial Improvement Committee Chair, and NCPCA president.
Gregory first moved to College Park in 1973. He attended the University of Maryland and was a member of the University’s wrestling team. Gregory has spent 35 years working in corporate accounting and finance for various industries and institutions.
Hew attended the University of Maryland and graduated with a degree in Natural Resource Management in 1994. In 2013, he became the Autoville community liaison and worked on the Detailed Site Plan for the Monument Village at College Park project, which is still under construction.
Kujawa has lived in College Park for nine years and has a degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. She currently works as a project manager for an aerospace engineering company and has served on the College Park Woods Pool Board and the College Park Redistricting Commission. She has also served as the Co-Coordinator of the Neighborhood Watch.
To learn more about the candidates listed above and for more information about the Nov. 3 College Park Elections, visit the city’s website here.
Candidate information courtesy of collegeparkmd.gov.