Incumbents – with one exception – swept the day in College Park’s City Council races. Topping the ballot was Mayor Patrick Wojahn, who won a third two-year term at the center of the dais with 1,532 votes, or 78 percent of the 1,964 votes cast.
His nearest rival, Nikesha S. Pancho took 13.7 percent of the ballot, or 268 votes, while Lazlarliani Maslawma earned only 164 votes, or 8.3 percent of the ballot. Maslawma stirred controversy on the campaign for homophobic remarks criticizing Wojahn and District Two Councilor P.J. Brennan, who are both gay.
Wojahn, after the results were announced, thanked the voters of College Park for their support.
“I am excited; I am humbled; I am pleased that the residents of College Park have given me another two years to be their mayor,” said Wojahn.
Outlining his priorities for the next two years, Wojahn said shepherding the new City Hall through construction and creating more vibrant public spaces in the city’s commercial corridors, especially midtown College Park and Hollywood, were his top priorities.
Otherwise, College Park’s City Council looks a lot like it did yesterday. The lone newcomer is Maria Mackie in District Four. She’ll replace Dustyn Kujawa, who declined to run for another term. Mackie has served as a Board of Elections supervisor and is active with the West College Park Civic Association. In a three-way race, Mackie received 225 votes, or 43.6 percent of the 516 votes cast in District Four, to sit alongside incumbent Councilor Denise Mitchell, who won 45.9 percent of the vote. In third in District Four was Michael Emmanuel, a University of Maryland graduate student who has worked with both Democratic and Republican state political campaigns. He only received 54 votes, or 10.5 percent of the ballot.
In District One, Fazlul Kabir won 745 votes or 60 percent of the ballot in the uncontested-ish campaign, while district colleague Kate Kennedy won 496 votes, or 40 percent of the ballot. Both are incumbents.
In District Two, noted city hall gadfly, Nextdoor scribe, transit skeptic, and all-around suburbanist Oscar Gregory lost his upstart bid to translate his digital outrage into votes with a “less taxes” campaign. With only 18.1 percent of ballot, or 104 votes, he failed to unseat incumbents P.J. Brennan and Monroe Dennis, who split the vote 43 percent (247 votes) to 38.9 percent (223 votes) respectively.
“I think the voters in my district know me from my previous four terms on City Council, and I am not disparaging Mr. Gregory, but he was trying to push some things that did not resonate with the folks in District Two,” said Dennis after results were announced.
“I saw a lot of optimism,” said Brennan, describing his encounters with voters during the campaign. “It was in stark contrast to a lot of what you hear on the neighborhood listservs and things like that. It’s nice to see that balance out and to know that people are actually very happy with the direction of the city.”
In District Three, Robert Day and John Rigg held onto their seats against challenger Mark Mullauer, who took only 11.2 percent of the ballot, or 110 votes, against Rigg’s 45 percent, or 451 votes, and Day’s 43 percent, or 424 votes.
College Park voters also narrowly rejected an advisory referendum asking if City Council terms should be extended from two years to four years. 51.5 percent of College Park voters, 973 ballots, said they’d prefer to keep two-year terms, while 48.5 percent of city voters, 918 ballots, endorsed a switch to four-year terms. The result elicited gasps from the audience when announced in College Park’s temporary council chambers in Davis Hall. Most were expecting the “two-year” votes to be much bigger.
However, College Park voters overwhelmingly said they’d prefer staggered terms if – and that’s a big if – College Park were to shift to four-year terms.
The close result for the two-versus-four-year terms vote also raises the question of how Council, whose members appear to support a mover to four-year terms – should proceed on the matter. The vote was only advisory, and City Council could theoretically still proceed with the changes. After the results were announced, Wojahn said Council was unlikely to move ahead with a switch to four-year terms, which would require amending the city’s charter.
“I doubt we’ll pass this, with the vote against it,” said Wojahn.
However, Councilor P.J. Brennan left the door open, saying he wanted to see how his District Two constituents voted on the matter. District-by-district results for the advisory referendum were not available last night.
“I don’t think we should vote against public opinion, but I am going to vote not necessarily on the totals of the whole city, but on the votes of my district,” said Brennan. “That is my way of approaching it, and I don’t know what those numbers are yet.”
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