Five current College Park City Council members and five residents have confirmed their plans to run in this year's city council election.
District 1 Councilman Fazlul Kabir, District 2 Councilman P.J. Brennan, District 3 Councilwoman Stephanie Stullich, District 3 Councilman Robert Day and District 4 Councilwoman Dustyn Kujawa are running for re-election, and District 1 residents Kate Kennedy and Christopher Gill, District 2 resident Alex Tobin and District 4 residents Alan Hew and Oscar Gregory are also pursuing a 2017-19 council seat.
Planning to run for his fourth term on the council, Kabir said that while he's seen progress in District 1, he'd also like to see other things like the Hollywood Streetscape project, which aims revitalize College Park's Hollywood Commercial District, that he'd like to see move forward.
"It's an ongoing project, so I'd like to see that happening sooner," Kabir said. "I've been working with the staff, [and] I've been working with the residents and getting input."
Kabir added that he wants to bring more activities for youth and senior citizens in the city, as well as affordable childcare options.
Current District 1 Councilwoman Christine Nagle does not plan to run for re-election, she wrote in an email.
District 1 resident Kennedy has been involved with the Community Foundation Board, North College Park Community Association and Advisory Planning Commission for almost three years. She wants to help the city become a place that attracts people to becoming long-term residents, she said. Her priorities include moving forward with family-friendly development and being fiscally responsible while promoting community and business growth, as well as creating a dog park.
Gill, a District 1 resident for about five years and a College Park resident for almost eight years, has served on the Advisory Planning Commission for about four years and has been its chair since the end of 2015. His time on the commission, which deals with appeals for code violations, zoning appeals and various types of variances, has impressed upon him how important it is for the government to be effective, he said.
"We get people coming in to us, who they want to do something that, to them, seems simple and, you know, they call the county and the county told them to call the city and then they have to come to this board, and they have to take their evening and file all this paperwork — and if you haven't done it before … it can be really confusing," Gill said. "It's those sort of day-to-day frustrations that I think it's really important to look to minimize."
Brennan, who plans to run for his third term on council, said he's running because he has invested "a lot of [his] personal time" in understanding city operations and getting to know his residents, an investment he feels "warrants [his] continued efforts."
"I'm personally interested in seeing the City Hall built so that we can continue to serve our community adequately as our city has grown so rapidly," Brennan said. "But ultimately, just like any other resident of this city, I'm interested in having a safe, clean and prosperous community, and I've demonstrated that I'm invested in those endeavors from a multitude of strategies," citing the positive change he's seen in his work on the Neighborhood Quality of Life Committee and the seniors' committee.
A junior government and politics major at the University of Maryland and a two-year College Park resident, Tobin launched his campaign for a District 2 seat earlier this month.
Tobin said he supports "smart and safe development" and election policy reform. He added the city needs to "seriously reassess" its election policy, including the absentee ballot system, which he believes "may accidentally disenfranchise large portions of the population."
Current District 2 Councilman Monroe Dennis, who said he was still deciding if he'll run for a fourth term when Tobin announced his candidacy, welcomed Tobin's involvement.
"I welcome anybody who is a resident of the community, the District 2 community, who feels like he has something positive to offer to being on the council," Dennis said.
Day, who said there is a need to "continue being a leader in the community," also plans to run for his fourth term on council. Projects such as the child day care center on Calvert Road and City Hall rebuilding efforts are among his priorities.
"If I am re-elected, I will just say that I'd really push to continue the strong communication between the students, the residents, the university — all the major stakeholders in the city, really, not just my district," Day said. "I'd like to see that to continue to see that grow and not become stagnant. And I think it would be really difficult for anyone new coming in to be able to push that issue really strongly and have the connections to be able to make it work for what we're trying to do."
Stullich, who has served five and a half terms on the council, said representing District 3 for the past 11 years has been a "great experience," adding that a big focus for her has been quality of life issues.
"One of the most effective things we've done, in my view, has been the campus tailgates. It was a huge problem for Old Town and part of Calvert Hills with literally thousands of people at pre-game parties and now that's been moved on to campus," Stullich said.
The change has been a positive one for long-term residents and students alike, Stullich said. She'd like to continue collaborating with the university to make College Park a better college town moving forward, she added.
Kujawa wrote in an email that she is planning to run for re-election, but could not be reached for further comment on her specific plans before the time of publication.
Current District 4 Councilwoman Mary Cook does not plan to run for reelection, Cook said.
After not being re-elected for a District 4 seat in 2015, former councilman Hew, who served from 2013 to 2015, said it's important for elected officials to try to make the best development decisions for the city in the long-run.
"The city is going through some economic redevelopment, a lot of new growth," Hew said. "If we don't set the standards and the bars high, developers will end up doing what they want to make it as profitable for themselves and not take as much consideration with long-term benefits for our community."
Gregory, who also ran for a District 4 seat in 2015, wrote in an email that a "big priority" of his is to "advocate for substantially lower tuition rates for Maryland in-state students." He'd also like to "work with university management to create a new corporate-student classification," which would "allow students to begin building careers and establish corporate networking relationships while attending college," Gregory wrote.
Mayor Patrick Wojahn announced in March that he plans to run for re-election, and is currently unopposed.
Candidacy petitions and other qualifying forms are due by Friday, Sept. 22 at 4:00 p.m., according to the city's website.