A slew of candidates will vye for spots on the College Park City Council in this year’s city elections on Nov. 5.
Mayor Fazlul Kabir, District 2 council members Susan Whitney and Llatetra Brown Esters and District 4 council members Denise Mitchell and Maria Mackie are running unopposed.
Five candidates are running for two seats in District 1, including recently appointed council member Alan Hew. Incumbent council members Stuart Adams and John Rigg will also face a challenger in the District 3 race.
Kamthorn Clary is a University of Maryland alum who has lived in College Park for the past eight years. He graduated in 2013 and has worked in finance for nearly a decade, focusing on affordable housing.
Clary believes the city must do a better job of marketing College Park as a place to settle down after university to retain its population of young people post-graduation.
“As a former student, I’ve kind of followed the roadmap that the city wants to see,” Clary said. “I went to Maryland, I came back here, I purchased my first home in 2018 and I’ve been in this house for five years.”
Clary hopes to inspire more civic engagement among students and residents.
“I think there’s this misnomer that local elections don’t matter, but these are the things that actually affect us most directly,” Clary said. “As a city we do need to do a better job of highlighting that.”
Bryan Haddad has lived in College Park’s Edgewood neighborhood for the last 12 years. He got a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from this university in 2010 and is a part owner of The Bamboo Eater, a smoke shop in College Park.
Haddad ran in the city’s special mayoral election in May as a single-issue candidate, focusing on noise muffler regulations, but only received 19 votes. Since then, Haddad has learned about how to run a better campaign and feels he has increased visibility from his mayoral run.
This election, Haddad has also incorporated more policies into his campaign.
“I’m running as a full candidate with a wide slate of issues,” he said. “I’ve lived here 13 years, own a business here and a house here, and want to see the community be as nice as it can be.”
If elected, Haddad hopes to address speeding on Rhode Island Avenue by incorporating roundabouts and add barriers to protect bike lanes.
Jacob T. Hernandez
Jacob T. Hernandez is a 13-year military service member and current State Department civil servant who has owned a home in College Park for three years.
“Being a newcomer gives me the opportunity of a fresh perspective,” Hernandez said. “But being willing to listen to those who have been here before me and know the history of the city gives me the opportunity to really build on those lessons and experiences.”
Hernandez attends council meetings on a regular basis to familiarize himself more with the city.
As a first generation Hispanic American, he wants to see more Hispanic inclusion in College Park.
“We can do a better job of communicating with a larger amount of people,” Hernandez said. “[A] large population of Hispanics here in College Park aren’t really included in that process.”
Alan Hew was appointed in June to fill Mayor Fazlul Kabir’s former District 1 seat. Hew graduated from the University of Maryland in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in natural resources management and has lived in College Park’s Autoville neighborhood since 2005.
While Hew was the District 4 council member from 2013-2015, this election is his first time campaigning in District 1.
“The other candidates … have not been as involved in the community,” Hew said, emphasizing the steep learning curve that comes with anyone’s first year being on the city council.
Hew believes his prior experience can help him address gaps in the city’s current quality of life, pedestrian safety and city development.
“The city needs to continually move with the times and improve itself to improve the quality of life for the residents,” Hew said. “I’m committed to being a part of that improvement.”
Brian Roan is a senior technical editor for a consulting group and the founder of Shmidt Spirits, a distillery business in Beltsville, Maryland.
Roan graduated from the University of Maryland in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has been living in District 1 since 2010.
“I want to make sure that the city continues to be a place that I’m proud to call home and that I’m able to raise my child [in],” Roan said.
Roan believes the council needs to be more transparent and better involve community members in its decision making processes. As someone with a background in communications, Roan believes he has the “skill set” to improve the council’s current communication process.
Perez Abbott works in the Prince George’s County workforce development field. Originally from Illinois, Abbott has lived in College Park for six years.
Abbot is running for council with the goal of fostering a greater sense of community in the city.
As the only newcomer in the District 3 race, Abbott faces the challenge of overcoming two incumbents in Adams and Rigg. He believes his work as a Prince George’s County public servant can help him bridge that gap in experience.
He wants to get more students at this university civically engaged and is partnering with a sorority to register students to vote.
Engaging his fellow District 3 constituents is another important goal for Abbott.
“My goal is to reach out to every door in District 3,” Abbott said. “They should be able to have a voice in our municipal government.”