Stullich, Cook Crush opponents in special election, Aragon vows return in November

Election Results: Total (# of absentee ballots in parenthesis)

District 3

Hagner: 6 (0)
Massey: 89 (6)
Stullich: 203 (6)

District 4

Argon: 62 (12)
Cook: 141 (4)
Lynch: 24 (3)
Scarato: 21

Stephanie Stullich and Mary Cook are the confirmed winners of Tuesday’s election – marking the end of a surprisingly eventful special election. Long time resident Mary Cook, 50, prevailed over 3-year resident and student Nick Aragon. This even with the Mayor’s surprise last minute endorsement of him and his far superior financing (reportedly $2000 to Cook’s $150). Aragon, 24, was constantly and inaccurately labeled as a “student candidate” and his campaign was dogged by questionable reporting in the city paper (1,2) and even childish and “vicious” campaign tricks.

What began with the ascension of two longtime CP politicians to higher office ended with little fanfare, 2 new city residents on the council, and most of the city either gone or unaware any election had taken place at all. Between the primaries way back in September, when the special election was ensured, all the way to last Tuesday, we witnessed: a city council which (whether by design or by accident) waited until they had no choice but to hold the special election with half the city’s population out of town (the student half), student leadership which failed to put up even the smallest fight over the election date, an impressive but apparently futile student absentee ballot initiative (Aragon got 12 absentee votes), an unprecedented endorsement of a student by the Mayor, and even my own short-lived bid for the District 3 seat.

While it’s difficult to hide our distaste for the circumstances surrounding the election, we’re looking forward to an eventful year in College Park. We’ll be particularly interested to see the winning candidates live up to their promises of building a vibrant college town and ensuring greater ties to the university community. November, after all, isn’t that far off .

9 thoughts on “Stullich, Cook Crush opponents in special election, Aragon vows return in November”

  1. I commend Nick Aragon for running a spirited and passionate campaign. Even though he ultimately fell short, I believe he is a trailblazer and an example for all students interested in strengthening the student voice in College Park.

    While cooperation is key in the coming months (especially with Ms. Stullich and Ms. Cook), student leaders must start to prepare and mobilize for November sooner rather than later. As a member of the SGA, I know this is an issue that will continue to remain a priority.

    Congratulations to Ms. Stullich and Ms. Cook and to all the candidates.

  2. While turnout tends to be low in local elections, the people who do vote tend to vote for people that they know and are comfortable with. It is far better to lay the groundwork for running months and even years in advance, than spending thousands of dollars in the month leading up to the election. While money and organization are needed to win county and state elections they will be unlikely to work at the local level, if a neighborhood leader is a candidate.

  3. Aragon put up a strong fight for the District 4 seat. It is important to repeat that there were more than 4,000 students who live in that district who could not participate because the election took place during fall semester finals and the winter break. In the full election this fall, all of those students will be back and ready to vote, and I think Nick will prove himself to be dedicated to his community. Mary Cook needs to deliver in the next few months if she hopes to be voted in for a full term, and I am skeptical she will because everyone I’ve ever spoken with says she is difficult to work with, and she didn’t run on having ever delivered any results for her community this time around. Further, I don’t think it will be difficult to motivate students to come out and exercise their right to vote when they’re told about just how anti-student and anti-university Mary is. She and her allies blatantly used scare tactics to turn out voters against Nick–not for her, but against Nick. That kind of condescending and prejudiced attitude is what is wrong with the City Council, and Mary Cook should be ashamed of herself. Students should be outraged and I hope in November they stop her pathetic political career dead in its tracks.

  4. We’d be happy to post any materials that circulated if someone sends it over. I agree that Nick ran a great campaign. It’s a shame that the circumstances of the election proved to be too much to overcome.

  5. Nick Aragon was the best student candidate that I have seen during my time in the City. He now has the time and opportunity to establish himself in his district. In the next election in November, it is conceivable he could emerge a winner, expecially if one of the council seats is vacated.

    If people know you and are comfortable with you than scare tactics against you are not likely to be effective.

  6. I think we should give kudos to Robert too. Here’s another newcomer that came out strong. In addition to going against an established city activist, he also had the mayor and former councilmember Olson campaigning against him. Look for him in November as well.

  7. I have to agree with Councilman Catlin and I strongly believe that Nick will make an excellent candidate in November and I sincerely hope that he chooses to run again.

    I think we can all recognize that contested elections between dedicated and enthusiastic candidates is definitely in the City’s best interests. I look forward to seeing more students and city residents getting involved.

  8. Reading this post and subsequent comments, I am reminded that We are always at war with Eurasia.

    The Gazette article, UMD students, non-partisan group push for absentee ballots” states that the SGA and Maryland Votes collected applications for 150 ballots. While I was a student at UMCP, I actually would have preferred to drop my ballot off by mail rather than finding my way to Davis Hall in North College Park.

    The results appear to indicate that a number of residents did make it their business to get to Davis Hall on a cold day, while a number of students didn’t feel sufficiently invested in any of the candidates to return an absentee ballot. Is this conclusion unfair?

    There is some implication here (on one candidate website, as well as in the main post and in comments) of “vicious” attacks and “scare tactics.” David Daddio writes that he would be happy to post the materials in question. In the interest of fairness, shouldn’t you make an effort to obtain the materials first, before expressing your distaste and making accusations?

    Or, is Councilman Catlin effectively acknowledging in response #5 that “scare tactics” were employed? Seriously, what’s going on here?

    I agree with Bruce McPherson w/r/t to giving kudos to Robert Massey. While I don’t agree with all of his positions, I did see while reviewing all of the candidate responses, that he is the only one honest enough to state the obvious: condos will be snapped up by affluent students & their parents using FHA “kiddie condo” loans, thereby fulfilling the owner-occupancy requirements, and, by the way — there’s no restriction on renting out extra space.

    Color me skeptical on the continued noisemaking to drive a wedge between the student body and residents.

  9. Some very good points. I could have written a whole book on this one special election, but I choose to write what I did because 95% of our readers could care less about every facet of this thing. I think the take away point from all of this is that there are enormous hurdles to overcome as a “student candidate” running in a CP city council race. As a former candidate in this election I’m particularly well positioned to comment on this. Those hurdles come from inside politics both on the resident and student side, voter apathy on both sides but more on the student side, a voter registration and city government structure designed in favor of long term homeowners, and 25,000 people that love to take comfort in the labels “student” and “resident”.

    Nick really brought a whole new meaning to the words “student candidate” and still the press and his opponents insisted on reiterating the label. Take this quote from a Gazette article when I was still running:

    “University of Maryland students will face off against a College Park activist and a prominent civic leader this January in a race that will fill a council seat in both Districts 3 and 4.”

    I have not read the materials passed around about Nick but from excerpts and what I hear about them, they are absolutely ridiculous. It was also reported that several of his campaign signs went missing over a short period. Read more:

    I personally met with both Stephanie and Robert and thought that they were both excellent candidates – Stullich for her longtime activism in CP and clear vision for Route 1 redevelopment and Massey for his common sense market solutions. I especially liked that both of them recognized that cooperation with the university community is absolutely essential. I certainly hope to see both of them back on the ballot come November.

    There you have it – the version that 5% of people are interested in reading.

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