District 1 candidates - More in common than you think?

On my campaign trail, most want to know what I’ve done and will be doing if elected.

Some residents however ask questions that I find more interesting and challenging than others.

The other day I was at the west end of the neighborhood and one neighbor asked this to me:

What would you do differently from the other candidates?

There are good reasons to ask this question. Looking at the campaign platforms of all three candidates, it’s easy to see more common goals than differences. All three of us want to improve public safety, we want to attract quality businesses to our area, we’d like to enhance code enforcement. Also, all three of us want to see greener environment.

That said, there are a few key issues where I’d like to push the envelopes a little further. These are in the areas of  public safety, promoting city’s image and improving communications between residents / elected representatives and city-university relationships,

On public safety, we’d like to have a more aggressive approach. The current approach of using contract police officers is a temporary fix, but we need to look for a more permanent solution, such as having our own police department without increasing residents’ taxes. The use of ever-increasing cost of contract police officers along with the influx of revenues from the city’s camera program, with the support from UMd. President Loh and local governments, a city police department could be a reality.

Being part of Prince George’s County, which has been traditionally viewed as a place with high crime and poor school systems, our city suffers a serious image problem. This negative image has been preventing many new businesses and young professionals to move to the city. We can aggressively make an effort to promote the better aspects of our city, such as its century-old heritage, its place as the home of the flagship University of Maryland and the recent recognition to be the best city to raise children in Maryland. The city should also be proactive in attracting quality businesses to the city through creative incentive programs.

There have also been widespread grievances in the district about poor communications between elected representatives and residents. I personally try my best to share local information with my neighbors and seek their feedback through my blog site. If elected, I will extend that effort by developing online forums and surveys on important decisions I’ll make as my district representative.

I teach at the University of Maryland at the College Park campus and at the same time I’ve been a long-term officer at the north College Park Civic Association. Thus my background as a resident and also as a University staff gives me a unique opportunity to understand the challenges to this resident-university relationship and how to overcome them. As a teaching staff, I have enormous confidence in the abilities of what our students can do to contribute to a healthy resident – university relationship. I’d like to see these talents be utilized in many joint projects and studies that the City does on a regular basis. Partnerships like these will not only help city’s tax paying residents, but also will bring the university and the students to a positive light.

The council is like a team. At the end, we need to work together to get things done. However, nothing should stop us from going an extra mile and  make things even better that our residents care most about.