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A Message of Gratitude from your New Mayor

[Last night, I was sworn in as the new Mayor of College Park. I made the following remarks at the ceremony]

Good evening, College Park! Thank you all for being here. I am honored by your presence and grateful for the incredible privilege of serving you as the new Mayor of College Park.

I want to begin by expressing my gratitude to our residents for trusting me with this responsibility. I want to thank the community for your patience in the past two and a half months. As we all had to process many complex thoughts, we went through a period of uncertainty. I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity and move the City forward.  I also want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues, Councilmembers Ms. Mitchell, Ms. Kennedy, and Mr. Haddad, for running spirited campaigns and giving our residents choices during the election and engaging them in dialogue. I want to thank Mayor ProTem Mitchell for serving as the acting Mayor during this transitional period.

Tonight, I am also grateful to my family, my wife, my sons, and their families, Campaigning isn’t easy, so thank you for your sacrifices and for being with me every step of the way. I am glad to have you by my side as we begin this journey.

I am immensely grateful to all the dedicated volunteers and supporters who contributed their time, energy, and unwavering belief in our shared vision. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I also want to take a moment to reflect on my own journey. Growing up in a foreign land, my mother was a schoolteacher, and my father was a humble railway clerk. They both struggled a lot to raise me and my siblings in a small house without many basic amenities we take for granted. This experience allowed me to appreciate the value of hard work, be thankful, and aspire to excel higher in my life, to pursue my doctorate degree, and then cross the Atlantic in search of the American dream.

Along the line, I am incredibly grateful to this country and my neighbors for your love, acceptance and support over the years and for allowing me to serve you. I wasn’t born in this country, I wasn’t raised in this country. I am an immigrant, I am a person of color, and I am a Muslim. Yet you all entrusted me with the biggest opportunity to serve you. By electing me, you have genuinely shown the best of College Park – a truly inclusive, diverse and welcoming community that can be a model for other communities in this country.

To our residents, in the next few days and weeks, I’ll be meeting many of you. You will see me at your civic association meetings, the town halls, the farmers’ markets, and the boards and committee meetings. Many of you are still recovering from the shock that we all just went through. So I want to be on your side as we go through this journey and come out strong and resilient. But most importantly, I want to be in touch with you to hear from you – to get your ideas to move College Park forward.
I am incredibly grateful that so many of you voted for me. But I also want to recognize those of you who chose not to vote for me. Please note – whether you voted for me or not, I will be at your service.

And I’ll be at your service regardless of where you live in our beautiful City – whether in Sunnyside in the north or Calvert Hills in the south – whether in College Park Woods on the west or the College Park Yarrow and Estates on the east. Or Hollywood, Berwyn, Lakeland, or the UMD campus in the middle.

My passion is to hear from you and get things done. When you will ask me something – whether it’s a small or a big one – I may or may not be able to do it, but please know that – I’ll try my best to make it happen! So please keep your ideas coming.

But I also ask you all a favor. Whether I am doing my job right or not, please advise me how I can do better. Please make me accountable for the trust you’ve put in me. We want to take this journey together.

To my City Council colleagues, I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work with such a  wonderful team. As a Mayor, my job will be to elevate each one of you, because I truly believe that good leadership is about lifting others up and getting things done as a team. So if any of you on the Council have any idea or opportunity about any part of College Park, please let me know. I will work hard with you as your partner to bring your idea to a reality.

To our wonderful City staff, I want to take a moment to express my deepest appreciation for the hard work and dedication you bring to our beloved City. You are the ones who tirelessly run the engine of College Park, and sometimes we selfishly take the credit of your hard work. As the newly elected Mayor, I am excited to have the opportunity to work alongside such a talented and committed team and to make many wonderful things to happen.

We also see many wonderful opportunities ahead of us. We can grow College Park with smart economic development, especially in the Discovery District. We should all be excited to see the Purple Line being built. As Route 1 in south College Park is being redeveloped, we should keep advocating Route 1’s redevelopment in north College Park, while making sure to account for residents’ needs and traffic concerns. I want to see a respectful and strong partnership with the UMD. The University is a pool of talent, and I will work with the University to use that talent to benefit our long-time residents. We should continue to explore ways to bring more affordable housing to College Park. I will also work hard to bring more educational opportunities for all, especially our school students. And I will also ensure that our seniors are supported and valued members of our community.

In conclusion, I am humbled and honored to serve as your Mayor, and I pledge to work tirelessly to make College Park an even better place to call home.

Thank you.

Recognizing Five Exceptional Women Leaders on Our City Council during Women’s History Month

This is Women’s History Month; I want to recognize and thank five incredible women on our City Council. You have worked tirelessly to improve our community, often making sacrifices in your personal lives to do so. Your dedication, service and leadership to our city are an inspiration to us all, and we are all grateful for your contributions. Thank you!


Tomorrow’s Four Cities Meeting Agenda

The mayors and Council members of the Four Cities Coalition (College Park, Greenbelt, Berwyn Heights, New Carrolton) will meet tomorrow, Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 7:30 pm

The City of College Park will host the meeting. ‘

It will be a hybrid meeting. The In-Person meeting will be at the College Park City Hall, 2nd Floor Council Chambers.

Here is the agenda:

Berwyn Heights:

  • Stormwater Management
  • Background from College Park and Greenbelt on the renter to homeowner programs
  • How are other municipalities responding to the recent crime in the area, including whether there are any new police initiatives

College Park:

  • Legislative priorities that the Four Cities have in common
  • Investor purchases of single-family homes
  • Resilient Maryland Revolving Loan Fund (FEMA)
  • Local impacts from a federal government shutdown


  • WMATA: potential fare increases and changes in scheduling
  • Further discussion of the Plastic Bag Ban
  • Compost Collection
  • Firehouse Staffing of Career Firefighters

Mayor Anna Owens: 1925 – 2022

Mayor Anna Owens: Photo Credit

The community is saddened to hear of the passing of Anna Owens, former Mayor of College Park. She was highly regarded and respected as a dedicated public servant.

Mayor Owens lived in College Park Woods for 48 years, served as a City Councilmember from 1981 to 1987, and was the first and only female Mayor of the City from 1987 – 1993.

Before, during, and after her years as an elected official, Mayor Owens provided exceptional leadership in the community. She will be missed. More news to come regarding the memorial services.

Below is the article the City published about her in June 2019.

Published June 2019

For as long as she can remember, Anna Latta Owens was a community activist. Active in the neighborhood association, local schools, and community groups, Owens said that she always looked for solutions to better the community.

Now 94, Owens looks back at her time in Council and as Mayor for the City of College Park.

Moving to the City
In 1963, Anna Owens and her husband Dermot, began looking to move her growing family out of the increasingly expensive Washington D.C. She was working for the U.S. Department of State and needed somewhere close to the District but still affordable and a good place to settle into. After looking at various Maryland suburbs, they chose College Park in part because of its somewhat rural atmosphere and proximity to the University of Maryland. The Owens would live here for almost 50 years.

In their new home in College Park Woods, they raised a daughter and a son. One of Owen’s favorite memories was of the ponies that would occassionally come visit some of the homes there. There used to be a pony farm nearby; they worked in Takoma Park giving rides to kids.

Running for City Council
Owens was a very active member of her community, particularly for the local schools. She worked as a substitute teacher and was heavily involved as a volunteer for Cherokee Lane Elementary school and Buck Lodge Junior High. When Owens heard that a local school didn’t have an art program, she reached out to Gail Kushner (wife of Mayor Al Kushner). Mrs. Kushner contacted a University of Maryland Art Department Dean who worked to add an art program at that school.

When Owens first ran for City Council in 1980, she said she had to be talked into it by the mayor. “I am not a politician,” she would say, “I am an activist.”

After a successful campaign, Owens would go on to serve three terms from 1981 through 1987. During her Council tenure, she remembers a time of contention. Her biggest fight came with her opposition to a proposed garbage incinerator that would have been located near her District. After researching (even going as far as to speak to scientists in Belgium) and talking to other jurisdictions, she successfully lobbied the Council to prevent the garbage incinerator citing potential and unknown health concerns.

The First Female Mayor
With the encouragement of her husband, Anna Owens successfully ran for Mayor in 1987. She would become the first woman mayor of College Park.

Her time as mayor saw an ever-evolving College Park. As Mayor, she helped create a downtown area on Baltimore Avenue, created a beautification committee to help clean and take care of roads, helped reinstate the National League of Cities (NLC) Town and Gown group in College Park, and worked with the University to create the Kramer Housing Study to understand the needs better and develop a plan for student housing.

She would be reelected two more times as mayor before stepping down in 1993.

Life after Politics
Despite being out of politics for over 20 years, Owens keeps up with what’s happening in College Park. She remains active with the College Park Volunteer Fire Department and other organizations and is up-to-date with many of the latest news and developments happening in the City.

[Source: City of College Park , Office of CM Dernoga]

All Council Meeting Agenda may Have a Hybrid Format

At last week’s meeting, the Council discussed next year’s Council meeting dates and formats and asked staff to return with new options.

Staff presented a new agenda format at last week’s Worksession that will combine Worksession and Regular agenda items at the same meeting so that all meetings and all agendas are the same.

Currently, the work sessions and regular meetings occur on alternative weeks. Regualr meetings are concluded fairly quickly, however worksessionsa have been fairly long, often end until midnights.

The Council generally supported this hybrid format.

Until the full 2023 schedule is agreed to, we need to move forward with the approval of the January 2023 meeting dates. The Council will vote to approve the January Mayor and Council meeting dates: January 10, 17, 24, and 31.

New Traffic Pattern at Rhode Island / Edgewood Intersection

The Hollywood Elementary School parents recently asked to prohibit right turns to southbound Rhode Island Ave on red lights from eastbound Edgewood Road to help improve the safety of their children crossing Rhode Island avenue. Drivers were often seen driving over this crosswalk even when the children could be seen on it. The new sign was installed this week after the City Council approved the change two weeks ago. The “No Turn on Red” law only applies from 7 am – 8 am and 2 pm – 3 pm on school days.

Thanks to our City and County staff for making this important change possible.

City is Raising Awareness Against Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Symbolized by the color purple, the month advocates for the elimination of relationship violence.

City Hall, the Department of Public Works, and the Youth and Family Services buildings will be lit up in purple lights to raise awareness.

Many people suffer psychological, emotional, and economic stress in abusive relationships and need counseling and support. If you or someone you know is a victim or survivor of domestic violence, find assistance and resources at:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233)
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 866-331-9474
Care to Stop Violence at UMD

[City of College Park]

After One Year into 5-Year Strategic Plan, Council Looks to Set New Priorities

The first full fiscal year of the City’s 2021 – 2025 Strategic Plan will end on June 30. For the current fiscal year, City staff developed One-Year Objectives and Key Results for six of the 10 Five-Year Objectives. Council agreed that it was important to prioritize certain objectives and staff resources required to achieve those objectives.

Staff has given quarterly updates on the status of the departmental objectives and key results that have been developed for each quarter. Prior to proposing One-Year Objectives for FY23, staff discussed with Council the following:

(a) Does Council wish to focus on the same Five-Year Objectives? If not, which Objectives does it want to add or remove?
(b) For each of the proposed prioritized Five-Year Objectives, what programs, actions, or policies does Council wish to prioritize?

City staff and PBI facilitators made a brief presentation at this week’s Council Worksession. Based on this discussion and other related information (such as staffing and financial resources), staff will draft the proposed FY23 One-Year Objectives and Key Results for Council consideration and approval.

City Council Meetings Return to In-Person

Good news. Starting next week, the College Park City Council will start meeting In-person at the 2nd Floor Council Chambers, City Hall, 7401 Baltimore Avenue. Residents can also conveniently join the meeting via Zoom using the following link:

In the meantime, the number of COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have decreased sharply recently in Maryland and Prince George’s County. For example, over the past 14 days, in Prince George’s County, the number of covid cases went down by 79%, on the other hand, the number of hospitalizations decreased by 33%. As more and more residents are vaccinated, we hope to see the situation will improve further.

Despite 8-fold Increase in Cost, Voter Turnout in City Elections Hasn’t Improved Since 2013

Voters at the 2021 City election at the College Park Community Center (photo credit: the Diamondback]

At next week’s City Council worksession, the Board of Election Supervisors will meet with the Mayor and Council to debrief the 2021 Election Debrief.

Overall, from 2013 to 2021, the cost per ballot has gone up from $4.97 to $39.83, but the voter turnout (% voting) has marginally increased from 9.1% to 10.35%.

Even with the pivot to mailing out ballots to over 13,579 residents, we only had a total of 1,536 residents to vote. The statistics are below:

District 1-Number of Registered Voters-5,133
Number of Persons Voting-595
Percentage of Voting-11.5%

District 2- Number of Registered Voters-2,933
Number of Persons Voting-251
Percentage of Voting-8.5%

District 3-Number of Registered Voters-4,134
Number of Persons Voting-478
Percentage of Voting-11.5%

District 4-Number of Registered Voters-2,638
Number of Persons Voting-212
Percentage of Voting-8.0%

The cost of the Election from 2013-2021:

# of Ballots Cast – 1,568
Total Cost-$7,798
Cost Per Ballot-$4.97

# of Ballots Cast-2,222
Total Cost-$23,575
Cost Per Ballot-%10.61

# of Ballots Cast-2,648
Total Cost-$28,118
Cost Per Ballot-10.61

# of Ballots Cast-2,092
Total Cost-67,171
Cost Per Ballot-$32.11

# of Ballots Cast-1,536
Total Cost-$61.175
Cost Per Ballot-$39.83

The data analysis shows that we are spending more on ballots while the number of voters engaging in the city’s electoral process decreases every election cycle. Councilmember Mitchell and I will recommend conducting a city-wide survey to enlist your thoughts on residents who are not coming out to vote.

Over the years City has taken several steps to increase voter turnout. These include:

  • making voting by absentee / mail-in ballots easier
  • increasing the number of polling stations
  • introducing early voting
  • changing the date of the election to the weekend.

Due to COVID, some of these options couldn’t be implemented in the 2021 election. For example, the City had to hold elections at only one polling station

The City Council will discuss the election-related statistics and ways to increase voter participation.

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