COLLEGE PARK – Patrick Wojahn is ready to bring College Park together after a competitive election season and victorious campaign. On Tuesday, Nov. 3, the city of College Park elected Wojahn as mayor with 1,267 of the 2,124 total votes for mayor. Mayor Pro Tem Denise Mitchell received 857. “I’m feeling great, I’m feeling great. […]
COLLEGE PARK – Patrick Wojahn is ready to bring College Park together after a competitive election season and victorious campaign.
On Tuesday, Nov. 3, the city of College Park elected Wojahn as mayor with 1,267 of the 2,124 total votes for mayor. Mayor Pro Tem Denise Mitchell received 857.
“I’m feeling great, I’m feeling great. I’m really excited,” said Wojahn, who is the first openly gay mayor elect. “This is going to be an exciting couple of years and there’s so much exciting things going on for College Park right now. I’m really excited to bring our city into the next chapter and work to really transform College Park.”
Wojahn and Mitchell participated in one of the most contested mayoral races in recent history along side all of their colleagues, as every seat on the council was contested this election cycle. Both candidates served on the city’s council previous to this campaign and both had their elected office to lose.
“It’s over, you know, the best person won,” Mitchell said. “The voters turned out. That’s the most important thing. They expressed their force with their feet.”
In total, 2,222 residents voted in the citywide election. With 17,188 registered voters in College Park, the voter turnout this year was 12.9 percent, the highest turnout since 2001. In 2013 the city’s voter turnout was 9.1 percent, which was up from 7.7 percent in 2011. The highest turnout the city has ever seen was 70 percent in 1983 when the city’s population was near 4,300. District 3 saw the greatest turnout with 17.1 percent, while District 4 saw the least with 7.3 percent.
Wojahn said the voter turnout is an indicator of the resident’s interest and involvement in the future shape of the city.
“It really shows the level of engagement we have amongst the residents right now and how excited, on the one hand, and also somewhat nervous about what can happen in the future. Whenever you have change, I think, it can be exciting and it can be scary and I think there’s some of both of that right now,” he said.
Elsewhere throughout the city, incumbents dominated their elections. In District 3, which had five candidates vying for two seats, incumbents Robert Day and Stephanie Stullich were reelected. Initial election results had Ryan Belcher and John Rigg within range of staging an upset through absentee and provisional ballots, however Day won his council seat with 393 votes. Rigg garnered 380, while Belcher tallied 370.
The College Park City Council will also welcome three new members to council; one to fill each seat vacated by Mitchell and Wojahn and a separate seat in District 4 where Mary Cook (184 votes) and Dustyn Burkart Kujawa (165 votes) both received more votes than incumbent Alan Hew (131 votes).
With both incumbents and fresh faces expected on the newly elected council, Wojahn said his first plans as Mayor will include smoothing over any leftover tensions from the election season and sitting down with every council member to get a feel for their goals for the next two years.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Wojahn said. “I think, because the council is somewhat divided right now and my first challenge as mayor is I’m going to have to bridge that divide.”
Some major plans for Wojahn going forward, he said, is comprehensively working on transforming the commercial areas in college park, utilizing the city’s partnership with the University of Maryland, and actively pursuing public input in the future look of College Park.
“I also want to work on maintaining and enhancing the quality of services that we provide to residents,” he said.
As for Mitchell, she said she is not done with serving the city yet.
“I’m going to get some rest, that’s the first thing, regroup myself,” she said. “Like I’ve said, I’ll be coming to council sessions and I will be running again. This is only one down. I will be back in two years.”
Newly elected officials will take their oath of office on Dec. 7.