District 1 council member Fazlul Kabir will be the next College Park mayor after a landslide victory from Saturday’s special election.
“It is really, really exciting, so much trust the community has put in me. … I didn’t expect that I would be getting so much support, this is fantastic,” Kabir told The Diamondback.
Kabir was ahead by more than 500 of the preliminary votes Thursday, preventing any other candidate from catching up.
Final numbers released Friday confirmed Kabir’s victory with 1,008 votes.
District 1 council member Kate Kennedy won 469 votes, Mayor Pro Tem Denise Mitchell won 354 votes and single-issue candidate Bryan Haddad won 19 votes.
Mitchell said she hopes that the council and new mayor can work together to achieve their goals, and that Kabir has a good idea of what voters want moving forward.
“The best man that the voters chose won, Dr. Kabir. He will do a great job and I look forward to working with him,” Mitchell said.
Kennedy, who serves alongside Kabir on the council, said she hopes her ideas can move forward despite her loss and that she enjoyed meeting community members while campaigning.
Haddad, whose campaign centered around city code enforcement against illegally modified vehicles, said he would have been happy with three votes, so winning 19 shattered his expectations.
The election came after ex-mayor Patrick Wojahn resigned before his March arrest on child pornography charges.
During his campaign, Kabir said he wanted to improve police-community relations and develop safer non-car infrastructure. He also emphasized the importance of helping small businesses.
Miller said the city does not maintain demographic information in city records, but Kabir believes he will be the city’s first male immigrant mayor and the first Muslim mayor in the state of Maryland. He grew up in Bangladesh before living in the United Kingdom, Canada and finally to the United States.
“Someone may not be born in this country… but this country gives the opportunity,” Kabir said.
Kabir, who said he did not plan to run for mayor until his constituents asked him to, has represented North College Park on the city council since 2011. During his time on the council, Kabir said he has successfully advocated for a reduced property tax rate and the creation of a new community center and affordable housing.
Kabir also started several community events, like the first College Park Day community festival in 2010 and the Hollywood Farmers Market — which he began without city funding — in 2013. His blog, KabirCares.org, has been updating residents on council and city news since 2009.
He works for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and was previously an adjunct professor of cybersecurity at the University of Maryland, where both of his sons attended.
Looking forward, Kabir said he wants to reach out to as many different groups in the community as possible including civic associations, student leaders and fellow council members.
“It’s my job, on my plate, to bring the community together,” Kabir said.
The new mayor will be sworn in on Tuesday and serve until the regularly-scheduled November city election.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated that Kabir will be the city’s first immigrant mayor. Former Mayor Anna Owen was an immigrant. Kabir will be the city’s first male immigrant mayor. This story has been updated.
This story has also been updated to reflect final mayoral vote counts.