Attorney and LGBT rights advocate Patrick Wojahn, one of two gay members of the College Park, Md., City Council, has announced his candidacy for mayor, saying he’s committed to serving the needs of long-term residents as well as the city’s largest institutional resident – the University of Maryland.
“I am an advocate for the residents of College Park,” Wojahn said in a statement on his campaign website. “I have served north College Park on the City Council for the past eight years. In that time, I have made our city safer, greener, and an overall better place to live.”
Wojahn was scheduled to officially launch his campaign on Saturday, Aug. 1, at a gathering at the home where he and his husband, Dave Kolesar, live on Lackawanna Street.
The gathering was to take place less than two weeks after Wojahn suffered a broken left ankle and fractured right foot when an SUV slammed into the back of his car as it was parked next to the car of a friend whose car broke down on the side of a road at night.
Wojahn had arrived on the scene to help his friend Jeff Chelsky. The force of the impact shoved Wojahn’s car into his and Chelsky’s path, knocking both men over a guardrail. Chelsky, who received only bruises and scrapes, said in a Facebook posting that had Wojahn not come to his aide he would have stayed inside his disabled car and would likely have been thrown through the windshield and killed by the impact of the out-of-control SUV.
Friends and supporters have since pledged to redouble their efforts to help Wojahn with campaign legwork that he won’t be able to do for at least two months as his ankle heals with the aid of a cast-like boot.
Wojahn received his law degree from Georgetown University School of Law in 2002. He began his law practice with organizations advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. He currently works as director of government relations at Rails to Trails Conservancy, a national nonprofit organization that helps convert unused rail corridors into public parks and recreational spaces.
He has been credited with playing a lead role in pushing through policies on the City Council to improve overall city services, public safety, transportation, and rental housing for students.
Among other things, he introduced and helped shepherd through the Council two LGBT rights measures in 2014. One is an ordinance that requires companies that do work for the city to adopt non-discrimination policies that include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as same-sex partner benefits, for their employees as a condition for being approved for city contracts. The measure passed by a vote of 7-0, with one abstention.
The other was an amendment to the city charter that calls for a policy declaring that the city opposes discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations for a wide range of categories, including race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. The amendment passed by a vote of 6-2.
“I started my professional career and my family in College Park,” Wojahn said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “I love our city, and so, with the support of family and friends, I have decided to run for mayor. I want to continue to make this great city an even better place to live for all our residents.”
Wojahn has been endorsed by the current mayor, Andrew Fellow, who is not seeking re-election, and fellow Council members Stephanie Stullich and P.J. Brennan.
Council member Denise Mitchell, who voted against the charter amendment calling for non-discrimination polices for LGBT people, has emerged as the only other candidate running for mayor so far. The deadline for filing petition signatures to run for the mayoral position is Sept. 18. The election will be held Nov. 3.