Fazlul Kabir, a longtime College Park Council member, is now the city’s new mayor – and he hopes to remain mayor for a while.
Kabir, who won a May 6 special election by a wide margin, was sworn in as mayor on May 16. He immediately announced plans to run for a full two-year term in November.
“I am thrilled by the trust and support the community has given me during this election,” Kabir, who previously represented District 1 on the council, said in a statement. “I thank all who voted for me and I will work hard to bring the community together.”
Kabir won 1,008 votes received votes in the special election. Council member Catherine “Kate” Kennedy finished second with 469 votes. Denise Mitchell, also a council member, received 354 votes. Bryan Haddad, who owns a smoke shop in the city, received 19 votes.
Kabir replaces Patrick Wojahn, who resigned as mayor after his arrest on child pornography charges in March.
In an interview, Kabir termed the special election “quite a ride” for all the candidates.
“We were not really prepared for this election because what happened to the former mayor was unexpected,” he said.
Kabir said he plans to focus his work on mayor on housing, jobs, education and public safety.
By focusing on what he calls smart development, Kabir aims to expand the tax base in order to fund new city services. He said he hopes an innovation hub will provide opportunities for University of Maryland graduates to start their own businesses in the city.
To improve education in the city, Kabir said he hopes to institute a free tutoring program that would serve students from kindergarten through college. He also wants to get parents more involved in city schools.
Kabir said he intends to “be in touch with elected official at the county state, federal level, be in touch with the University of Maryland administration and definitely work very closely with my City Council colleagues.”
In a press release, the city said Kabir – who grew up in Bangladesh -- is believed to be the first-ever College Park mayor of South Asian descent as well as the city’s first Muslim mayor. Kabir has lived in the city for more than two decades and is raising his family there. He has served on the council since 2011.
Among those congratulating Kabir at the May 16 council meeting was Ethan Sweep, the community liaison with the Office of Rep. Glenn Ivey. Sweep read a proclamation that said: “The Office of Congressman Glenn Ivey recognizes the accomplishments and contributions to the community of Mr. Fazlul Kabir on his election as mayor of the city of College Park.”
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