College Park Elections: Meet the candidates running to represent UMD’s districts

By Alexandra Marquez

The College Park City Council elections will be held on Nov. 7 and each council member’s seat is up for election. The official list of candidates will be posted on Oct. 4, but so far, 22 community members have announced their candidacy.

Mayoral roundup

The University of Maryland, College Park, is split between two of the city’s districts: District 2 and District 4. There are five candidates running for two council seats to represent District 2 and four candidates running for two seats to represent District 4. There are also four mayoral candidates

  1. H. Tom Chen, Lalzarliani H. Malsawma, Mary C. Cook and incumbent Patrick L. Wojahn are running for College Park mayor.

Wojahn is running for re-election to build on his work from previous terms. He hopes to continue efforts to redevelop certain parts of the city.

“We need to focus on revitalization of the city and new high quality development that respects our neighborhoods,” he said.

Wojahn also wants to improve public safety and connecting College Park residents with their law enforcement officers.

“The second thing [to focus on] would be public safety,” he said. “And working to continue to improve our police coverage and relationship between the police that work in College Park and the community so that they can better service and address the challenges that College Park faces.

Malsawma said  she decided to run for mayor for religious reasons.

“It’s a calling I sense from God,” she said. Should she win, Malsawma’s biggest goal is to establish a clear identity for College Park. “Right now we’re being blown every which way every time a strong influence comes along,” she said.

To help ground College Park behind one common entity, Malsawma’s top priority is building a new city hall. She wants a community space where residents and community members can gather without inhibitions.

“I would like to see city hall rebuilt, not in it’s current location,” Malsawma said, “[And with] a meeting hall where we can have different kinds of programs that can accommodate more people than the council chambers can right now.”

Chen and Cook did not respond to requests for comment.

District 2 Roundup

Junior Government and Politics major Alexander Tobin is running for a council member seat in District 2.

“I’ve always felt a strong admiration for College Park and it’s many communities,” he said.

Should he win, Tobin wishes to improve access to absentee ballots and bridge the gap between UMD students and other community members.

He hopes that his campaign for city council will inspire other students to get more involved as well.

“I will be representing long term residents and student voters living in College Park and I want to show students that you can get involved in civic participation,” he said.

Tobin is running against two current city council members, PJ Brennan and Monroe Dennis, for the District 2 seat.

Brennan is committed to working closely with the University and other community members to re-establish College Park into a modern college town.

“The City and University are working closely together to redevelop the downtown and surrounding areas, attracting new businesses to serve residents and visitors to our city,” his website states. “Subsequently, College Park is poised to become the quintessential college town, an attractive place for families and young professionals.”

Daniel Blasberg Jr. and Richard Douglas are also running for the District 2 seat. Blasberg previously served as the director of the Berwyn District Civic Association and on the College Park Citizens Corp Council. He ran for the District 2 seat in 2015 without success.

District 4 Roundup

The four candidates running  in District 4 are Oscar Gregory,Alan Hew, Dustyn Kujawa and Denise Mitchell.

Mary Cook and Dustyn Kujawa are the current councilmembers representing District 4, but Cook is running for mayor rather than seeking re-election.

Alan Hew is campaigning for continuing development in College Park. He’s hoping to use his experience working with developers in the city to build connections with new developers and other community members.

“A lot of times people push back at development when it’s going to happen anyway. But if we understand the priorities of the city, priorities of the community, the impact that it can have…  it can really work in our advantage,” Hew said.

Gregory, Mitchell, and Kujawa did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

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