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City of College Park mayoral election guide 2023

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Posted on: April 13, 2023

The College Park Here & Now reached out to all candidates registered to run in the city’s special election; their brief bios are below. 

Election day is May 6, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; voting will be at City Hall, 7401 Baltimore Avenue. Early voting is on May 2, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., at Davis Hall, 9217 51st Avenue. To receive an absentee ballot by mail, you must file a completed application by April 26. For more information about the election, including absentee voting and ballot returns, go to collegeparkmd.gov/181/City-Elections

April 15 Candidate Forum

We invite you to join us for a candidate forum on Saturday, April 15 at 1 p.m. Maria James, a former managing editor with Streetcar Suburbs Publishing (this paper’s parent company), will moderate the event, which will take place at Davis Hall, 9217 51st Avenue.

To submit questions for the candidates, go to bit.ly/3Z84WVa or scan the QR code on this page.

The forum will also be broadcast live on the College Park Here & Now Facebook page, and a video of the forum will be posted to streetcarsuburbs.news on April 16.

Bryan Haddad

Age: 35

Day Job: I am a successful small business owner. I own The Bamboo Eater, which has been in the same location in north College Park for 13 years. I have hired people, fired people, trained managers, changed revenue streams, and consistently stuck with good investments over bad ones. I have done so well as a small business owner that I have averaged under 20 hours of work a week for years. The day to day operations of The Bamboo Eater are currently run by a manager who makes a living wage. If fiscal responsibility and intelligent investment are important to you, then I am your candidate.

Community Involvement: I have lived in the Edgewood neighborhood in north College Park for 13 years. Prior to that I attended UMD for four years, where I received a BA in Philosophy and served on the Sigma Phi Epsilon executive board. You will often see me picking up trash around the Hollywood Square Shopping Center.

Statement to Voters: I am running as a single issue candidate to increase penalties against illegally modified vehicles. I believe that city code enforcement can be strengthened to more effectively write tickets against these vehicles by citing already existing MD laws. I believe this issue has been largely ignored by the city council and I intend to make actual progress. As a single issue candidate, you can be assured that the work I do while in office will be consistently focused towards a realistic goal. Strengthening city code against illegally modified vehicles will have a tangible effect on the quality of our community in terms of safety and noise reduction. A vote for me is a vote for a more peaceful community. If I manage to accomplish my goals regarding increased ticketing for illegally modified vehicles, then I will continue to focus on strengthening city code, especially against negligent landlords. I will also make planting native trees a priority.

Fazlul Kabir

Age: 59

Day Job: I hold a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. My current day job is with the federal government. In the past, I also worked with a number of other federal agencies, where I gathered experience in developing business proposals and acquired financial and project management skills. I also taught cybersecurity as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland/College Park for eight years. 

Community Involvement: I moved to College Park with my wife and two sons in 2003. I have been serving District 1 and the greater College Park community as city councilman since 2011, being the longest continuously serving member of the current city council. I have also been participating in the local civic association, NCPCA, since 2006.

More specifically, in 2010, I worked with a wonderful group of residents for several months and we started the city’s annual College Park Day event. Together, we also started our farmers market and the community garden. Last year, I advocated bringing the once-famous annual College Park parade back on Rhode Island Avenue, which brought thousands of city residents together in one place.

In my spare time, I enjoy working on home improvement projects, woodworking and gardening.

Statement to Voters: I love to listen to our residents and get things done. During the council terms, I listened to our residents and worked on several amenities – a new Duvall Field, Hollywood Streetscape, Hollywood Dog Park, Gateway Park, protected bike lanes and a community center. Being the representative of all districts in the city, I will listen to all residents of College Park and extend my advocacy to bring more amenities to every part of the city.

Being the mayor, I will advocate for strong public safety, better code enforcement, smart economic development, sustainable and green programs, aging-in-place for our seniors, partnership with the university, enhanced education in our schools, affordable housing and a healthy mode of transportation.

Catherine “Kate” Kennedy

Age: 43

Day Job: I am a nonprofit professional and certified fundraising executive, currently serving as director of development, Mid-Atlantic for Share our Strength, a large nonprofit working to end childhood hunger. I have an MBA from Georgetown University and an undergraduate degree in English and women’s studies from Keene State College.

Community Involvement: I am a three-term councilmember representing District One in North College Park.  While on council, I have led multiple efforts within the city including: chairing the College Park Community Preservation Trust, a $15 million housing trust to help low- to moderate-income individuals buy homes and to promote owner-occupied home; chairing the Committee on Committee; advocating multiple city initiatives, including the establishment of a school tutoring program and mental health reimbursements.

I serve on regional and national committees to network with other municipal leaders, learn best practices and share our accomplishments. Current appointments include: vice chair, Washington Council of Government’s FARM Committee (food and agricultural); member, Washington Council of Government’s Region Forward Committee; National League of City’s Youth, Education, and Families Council and University Communities Council

Additional community involvement includes: member, North College Park Community Association; licensed foster parent with Prince George’s County.

Statement to Voters: While serving as a councilmember over the last six years, I am proud of all the work the city has accomplished while also maintaining a low tax rate. 

I am a collaborative leader with strong facilitation skills. I have a proven track record of bringing people together and delivering results. One example is my work establishing the College Park Community Preservation Trust. Under my leadership, the committee established a strong business plan; raised $15 million from city, state, and federal sources; and hired an executive director.

As mayor, I will use these facilitation skills and my ability to get results. My foci will include developing a full spectrum of housing options, including affordable housing, that build generational wealth; addressing public safety and quality of life, focused on building welcoming neighborhoods; fostering small businesses across the city, especially in our smaller business districts; establishing green initiatives, including preserving our tree canopy; promoting environmental-friendly modes of transportation like the Purple Line; reducing landfill waste; and advocating at the county and state level for improved K-12 schools. 

You can learn more about me and my vision for College Park by visiting my website at www.kateforcollegepark.com or via email at ka***********@gm***.com

Denise Mitchell

Age: 59 

Day Job: For most of my life, I have held a steadfast commitment to education, having worked for 30 years in early childhood education. I also served as a regional manager and CFO of a consulting firm primarily focused on education efforts.

Now I am focused on constituent services in the public sector through a non-elected role within Prince George’s County.

Community Involvement: I have served in the following capacities: College Park City Councilmember (District 4) 2009-2015, and 2017-present; mayor pro tem 2013-2015, and 2021-present.   President of the Maryland Municipal League 2022 – present. Member of the board of directors of the National League of Cities. Board of directors for Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Transportation and Planning Committee

Statement to Voters: As the current mayor pro tem, I see the pain the College Park community is currently facing. Our community needs a way to come together and move our city forward while ensuring all those affected by the recent news have a way to be supported. Since 1975, I have been an active community member in our great city. Whether it was in an elected position or simply as a community member, I’ve made it a focus to serve as a voice and support for all residents of College Park.

Throughout these years, I have created initiatives with our partners, such as having local captions streamed during council meetings, helping start the Aging in Place Task Force, holding a discussion on affordable housing and a Youth Advisory Council, to name a few. I also have made sure to work alongside our partners on the local and state levels to ensure that our city is getting the resources we deserve.

In this next term, I’ll work hard to ensure we have strong economic support and resources for our local businesses. Through a collaborative relationship with the Prince George’s County Council, Maryland General Assembly, the University of Maryland and the student population, we can bring about strong economic development through tax credits for long-term residents, individuals with electric cars and close the gap on our food desert and other initiatives executed as One College Park.

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