Dozens of ear-witnesses in College Park, Greenbelt and Berwyn Heights, including this journalist, reported hearing a loud, explosion-like boom in the early-morning hours of Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. The noise rattled residents, who took to social media to report their experiences. As of Sunday evening, no definitive cause for the noise has been disclosed by local officials.
At its Aug. 13, 2019, meeting, College Park City Council approved a measure authorizing city staff to borrow approximately $14 million in city funds to build a new City Hall that will also share space with University of Maryland offices, as well as approximately $5 million to fund new athletic fields for Duvall Field, the city’s largest public park. In so doing, College Park City Council rejected calls from a vocal group of residents to put the matter before voters as a referendum in the city’s upcoming November municipal elections.
Elections in Prince George’s County’s southern Route 1 corridor tend to be small and fast affairs, with short campaign seasons that are active for maybe a month. But in College Park, the largest city along Baltimore Avenue inside the Beltway, the 2019 campaign is already underway, months before voters go to the polls in early November.
For those used to the pace of a national election cycle, a few months on the local campaign trail might seem like peanuts. But for Maryland’s middling-sized municipalities, shorter elections are the norm. Consider that Hyattsville had a fully-competitive slate of 13 candidates running for five council seats and the mayor’s office, and of those, only one announced their campaign more than six weeks out. In Mount Rainier, the candidate registration and certification deadline is three weeks from election day.
In College Park, candidates can begin to circulate a petition for candidacy in August.