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City Allows 18-Year-Olds to Run for Mayor, Council Over Objections of Older Residents

Objections to plans to lower the age for serving as mayor or on the College Park City Council was an insult to some young adults.

College Park residents who are 18 years old can now run for City Council or mayor. File|Patch
College Park residents who are 18 years old can now run for City Council or mayor. File|Patch

Does an 18-year-old have the experience necessary to serve as mayor of College Park, or on the city council?

The College Park City Council voted 5 to 3 recently to lower the minimum age for mayoral and council candidates to 18, reports Gazette.Net.

College Park Mayor Andrew Fellows supported the change.

“I do think this is a great step forward,” Fellows said in the website’s story. “I think this is going to lead to greater collaboration and greater dialogue and resolve a lot of the issues that are a concern to long-term residents.”

Several long-term College Park residents said a younger mayor or council member would not have enough experience or commitment to the city to serve in the positions, the Gazette.Net story says.

“I am bewildered and dismayed by the council members who are apparently ready to jettison one of the few ways we have of legally and fairly tempering the undue influence of college students on the quality of life in this town,” said Cindy Lollar, 55, of College Park.

Those in favor of changing the age requirements said that college-aged candidates could be well-qualified and that voters ultimately decide whether a candidate will hold a position in city government.

Samantha Zwerling, 22, of College Park is the current University of Maryland, College Park, student body president and said she oversees a budget of $1.3 million and answers to 26,000 constituents in that role.

One of the UM attending the meeting was Josh Ratner, former student liaison to the City Council and now a volunteer firefighter in College Park.

“It really hurt a lot to hear a lot of what was going on,” Ratner, 20, said in the Gazette.Net story. “I’ve seen people die in this city. I’ve seen people get shot. … I’ve delivered babies. I’ve seen it all. And to imply that because an 18-year-old is young they don’t have relevant life experience is insulting.”

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