Although too many members of the College Park community could care less about the composition of the city council, they play a large role in the direction the city will take in the future. Although they do not hold final zoning authority, they mold new development projects in the city through extensive consultation with developers and influence with county officials. The city sets parking policies, is building a new downtown parking garage, has created trails systems, and even caps the rents on rented houses in an attempt to both control high rents and prevent conversions to rental properties. Given that context, the composition of the council is set to change this November, something the Diamondback pointed out in a recent analysis of the race.
We can report that a new face to the council will be running for a seat in District 3. Mark Cook, a Yarrow resident and chair of the city’s Advisory Planning Commission has filed to run in this November’s election. Cook’s community involvement also includes work as president of the Yarrow Citizens’ Association and for the Committee for a Better Environment. District 3, which includes Old Town, Fraternity Row, the Knox boxes, and the Commons buildings, is currently represented by Stephanie Stullich and Andrew Fellows on the council. Stullich plans to run for re-election, but Fellows will not.
When we sat down with Cook this week he said public safety, Route One redevelopment, and public schools would be some of his top priorities. “The city needs to decide whether they want a main street or a highway running through the community,” Cook said, “I want a main street.” Cook envisions a city where public transit is encouraged, off campus students have a better relationship with city residents, and where University faculty and staff want to live. He views East Campus as an opportunity for the city to gain a common space and amenities.
While we will look forward to learning more about the views of all the candidates, Cook’s vision and experience will make him a strong candidate for the seat. The election is scheduled for November 6, 2007.