By Daniel Zika
For The Diamondback
As College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn prepares to run for reelection in the fall, he’s focusing on the city’s economic recovery and racial equity as important topics in the community.
Although elections are not until November, Wojahn has already begun developing policies for the term that will address issues the College Park community is facing.
Wojahn, who has been mayor since his election in 2015, plans to run for a fourth term in November.
Wojahn would continue his plan to address racial inequity in an additional term. In February, the College Park City Council unanimously approved a steering committee focused on restorative justice. One of the committee’s main goals is to address the historic underinvestment in the Lakeland community, Wojahn said.
George Randall, who grew up in Lakeland, believes this is one of the most valuable things Wojahn has done in his three terms.
“The Lakeland community represents Black history in America, and for our mayor to make justice such a backbone of his plans, proves his understanding of the community,” Randall said.
Wojahn also plans to continue the expansion of recreational trails in and around the College Park area. Wojahn is the government relations director for the national organization Rails-to-Trails, which is a part of the Capital Trails Coalition. The coalition advocates for equitable distribution of transportation and recreational trails in the Washington, D.C., region.
The expansion of bike trails will aid in the pursuit of equity and connecting people and places that have faced historic underinvestment, Wojahn said.
“This is a big focus in communities of color and in Prince George’s County in particular,” Wojahn said.
Wojahn also emphasized fostering economic development in College Park.
“We’re on the verge of a revitalization, a renaissance in our downtown,” Wojahn said. “That’s in part because of our work in the last few years, getting the city hall built and getting that new Bozzuto development built.”
The Bozzuto development is being constructed just south of the main commercial zone in College Park, stretching the downtown area farther along Route 1. Wojahn said this construction will expand student and non-student housing, as well as bring opportunities for new businesses to move in.
Wojahn said he believes this is just the start of what College Park can be. He cites recent events such as the College Park-based tech start-up IonQ going public as proof the city can be an economic driver for the region.
College Park City Council student liaison Adam Rosenbaum, a junior computer science and finance major at the University of Maryland, said the mayor is missing the voice of students in his plans for College Park. Rosenbaum said the government needs to do more to include students in the ongoing elections and the city’s decisions because a large portion of its business and well-being relies so heavily on the year-round business of students.
“There’s not a ridiculous amount of desire to work with students,” Rosenbaum said.
The city has made some accommodations that may help students participate in city government, such as moving its mayoral and council elections to a Sunday instead of Tuesday to allow more people to vote.
Rosenbaum urges students to remain involved in voting and encourages students to register to vote in College Park elections.
Wojahn said if given the opportunity to serve a fourth term, he would like to help the community prosper in the future.
“We’ve got a great community here. It’s really been great to see how the community has come together in responding to all these different challenges that we face,” he said. “I’m looking forward to what the next two years have to bring.”