Watching Fazlul Kabir, Patrick Wojahn and Christine Nagle chat with each other outside Davis Hall Tuesday afternoon, one never would have guessed they are opponents.
Surrounded by yard signs and supporters, they were getting in some last minute campaigning as residents turned into the parking lot to vote. The three are vying for . Every so often they paused their conversations to wave and smile, and thank residents for coming out to vote.
It’s a place all three have been before — together.
Two years ago, they outdistanced two other candidates in the city election. Wojahn, an incumbent, walked away that day with 355 votes, 60 more than Nagle. Nagle beat Kabir by 81 votes.
is back to make another effort. Though he didn’t have anything negative to say about his opponents, he thinks he can do better in the council seat.
“I think I can actually go the extra mile,” he said.
He’s particularly interested in improving public safety, he said, and he endorses the idea for College Park to have its own police department. Currently, the city relies on police service from the Prince George’s County, University of Maryland, Washington Metro Police, Prince George’s Park Police and contract police.
Kabir does not want to raise taxes to fund a department, though. Rather he wants to use other sources, like speed camera revenue, he said.
All three candidates said it’s important to reduce the number of empty properties in the city, both single-family homes and commercial property.
“We have a lot of vacant houses that shouldn’t be,” said. “There’s a real market here for owner-occupied [homes].”
In order to fill these houses, she believes it’s important to market the city, and especially the schools in College Park.
She said she’d also like to see a community center in the neighborhood that seniors can use during the day; children can use it in the afternoon as an after-school program, and teenagers can use it in the evening. She said it’s a mission County Councilwoman Mary Lehman (Dist. 1) supports, and now it’s a matter of finding city money for it, and garnering county funds.
A community center is something would also like to see, specifically as part of redeveloping the Hollywood District. He wants to see more restaurants and gathering places there, and a better gateway to the community, he said.
Wajahn said he spoke with residents during his campaigning about other issues, too.
“There’s a lot of concern about [traffic] congestion … and public safety,” he said.
Wojahn’s actions over his past two terms on council have won over at least one voter.
“I just like the effort that Patrick has been putting into the city and district,” said Jamie Lark, 47. Her second vote went to Kabir.
“I’d like to see what Kabir can do,” she said. She said she follows his personal blog about College Park. “Seems like he’s very involved in the community.”
Ari Houser, 32, on the other hand, took the approach that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
He said he spent a lot of time researching the candidates two years ago, but he didn’t put much thought into the election this time around, and voted for incumbents Wojahn and Nagle.
“I’ve been happy with the way they’ve represented me so far,” he said.
By noon, just one hour after polls opened, 67 District 1 voters submitted ballots. If that rate is maintained until polls close at 8 p.m., turnout will be just two votes shy of what it was two years ago.
For District 4, where the race is uncontested between incumbents and , the line at Davis Hall was much shorter — when there even was a line.
By noon, 18 voters visited the polls for District 4.
Knowing he doesn’t have much of a race Tuesday, Afzali said it was very moving when his constituents actually showed to vote.
“It’s great to see people have some civic pride,” he said.