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College Park City Council member Kate Kennedy will not run for re-election this November, leaving both District 1 seats open without any elected incumbent candidates for the first time since 2000.
Kennedy, who has represented District 1 on the council since 2017, told The Diamondback she will instead focus on her mental health, her new job and serving the city in new ways.
Kennedy recently accepted a position as a chief development officer for The National CASA/GAL Association for Children, an organization that works with and advocates for youth in foster care. Kennedy has been a foster parent for two years.
The council member said this new position will be more demanding than her current role and make it more challenging for her to fulfill the duties of a council member.
“I think it’s a fantastic program that really does an amazing job supporting foster youth,” Kennedy said. “This issue is something I’m very passionate about.”
Kennedy also said she thinks the city council isn’t focusing enough on broader policy initiatives, which she prioritizes.
“I see the direction of the new leadership going more heavily into the day-to-day operations or day-to-day business of the city and my my focus, where I do best, is in a more strategic long-term vision,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy ran for mayor in the city’s May 2023 special election but lost the race to her fellow District 1 council member, Fazlul Kabir.
The 2023 mayoral election contributed to her burnout, she said. The council member received accusatory letters and comments on the campaign trail about her past friendship with former College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn, The Diamondback previously reported.
“That campaign did me in. It was hard and people were mean to me. It was unnecessary,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy believes the biggest impact she made as a council member was helping create the Community Preservation Trust, which aims to create affordable homeownership opportunities by helping residents purchase homes at lower price points. The trust has purchased its first home, is working to sell the house to a resident and purchase other properties, Kennedy said.
Kennedy said she plans to continue serving as the chair for the Community Preservation Trust Advisory Committee, which is run through the College Park City-University Partnership.
Kennedy’s announcement means that the race for both District 1 positions is open in the upcoming city election, with no elected incumbents, for the first time in over 20 years.
Current District 1 council member Alan Hew said he is planning to run for one of the open seats in November. Hew was appointed by the council to represent District 1 in June after Kabir won the city’s special mayoral election.