Almost two months into representing District 1 on the College Park City Council, Alan Hew is both a council member and candidate ahead of November’s city election.
Appointed as a council member in June after former District 1 council member Fazlul Kabir became the city’s mayor through a special election, Hew has less than three months before he is up for reelection.
Hew previously served on the council from 2013 to 2015, representing District 4 before last year’s city redistricting rezoned him into District 1. He failed to get reelected in the 2015 and 2017 elections. He’s also served on the city’s animal welfare, better environment and Bee City USA committees, as well as the redistricting commission.
“I don’t believe that things get better just by complaining about them,” Hew said. “You’ve got to volunteer and apply to the positive changes, and that’s what I did.”
Hew was one of the 11 people who applied for the vacant District 1 seat in June and was one of four interviewed for the position.
“We had a slew of amazing candidates,” said District 1 council member Kate Kennedy. “[Hew] really stood out as having the most experience in the city and the most experience working with different committees.”
Kennedy is not running for reelection, so both seats in District 1 are open in November’s race without any elected incumbents. As Hew vies for one of them, he sees safety in the city as a top campaign issue.
Autoville — Hew’s home neighborhood — and the other District 1 neighborhoods close to Route 1 face numerous issues, including a lack of amenities, he said.
Hew plans to improve pedestrian safety and public transport by adding more stoplight-protected crosswalks and staggering local bus routes. He added that he’d like to see more mixed developments near Route 1 like greenspace and landscaping to create a welcoming space for both residents and people entering College Park from the Capital Beltway.
He organized residents and served as a community liaison between his neighbors, the developer and city officials to discuss the original plans for the Monument Village development, and successfully lobbied for creating greenspace in the plans.
Before Kabir swore in Hew as council member in June, the mayor acknowledged his involvement in College Park.
“Thank you for your advocacy and thank you for your engagement throughout the years,” Kabir said.
Though he grew up in Hawaii, Hew moved to the College Park area in 1991 and earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland in 1993.
This background in environmental stewardship shows in his advocacy for other greenspace while previously on the council, including a permaculture garden that featured edible plants along the Trolley Trail in College Park.
Now, Hew wants to emphasize teaching the next generation and working with young people.
“I want to work with the children and I want them to learn life skills, learning things about the environment,” he said.
His 2013 to 2015 council term was mostly about learning, he said. By the time he understood the process, his opportunities to be effective during his first year was derailed by having to campaign again.
But since his appointment, he said he’s taken advantage of his previous experience to “hit the ground running.”
Now, Hew has to play “catch up” by meeting his constituents before aiming for reelection in November. He feels confident that his involvement with the city will show through in November, he added.
“That steep learning curve has already passed,” he said. “I am not coming in from the lull, I’m coming in from being active. It gives me more confidence.”