By Savannah Williams
For Unwind magazine
Ryan Belcher, a 2015 graduate from this university, has a lot to say about College Park. He certainly should – after all, he is running for City Council on Nov. 3.
Belcher, along with incumbents Robert Day and Stephanie Stullich, are running for the council position in the most contested College Park election in 20 years.
Belcher is one of the youngest people to run for this position, since the age requirement to run for public office was lowered from 21 to 18 in 2014 in an effort to bridge the divide between students and residents of College Park. Belcher was even a member of the SGA bill that recommended this change of age requirement. During his time on the campus, Belcher worked with the University Senate while studying environmental science and policy and government and politics.
“My government major provided a good theoretical basis as to why people make political decisions,” Belcher said. “My environmental science major influenced my platform, and would definitely be a guiding factor as I make decisions [if elected].”
Belcher said “increased sustainability, proper development and making College Park a home for a more diverse group of people” are his three foremost goals. Some key factors of his platform include initiatives to revamp the city internship program, subsidize home ownership, reduce disturbances by college parties and ambient noise, make College Park more sustainable, and develop safety and infrastructure within the city.
Students and residents share College Park. The businesses, restaurants, transportation and legislation involved with this city often struggle to address the needs of both groups.
“The university and the people in charge of College Park have this vision that they’re forcing too much. They’re really trying to make this a college town, but they’re adding hotels, and saying: ‘Look, we’re going to be a college town because we have this fancy hotel coming up!’ That’s not how it works,” said Jessica Glassman, a sophomore sociology major. “[City Council leadership] should put less stress on apartment style living, and more stress on affordable living for students and the other people that live here, because there’s still a lot of families in College Park.”
“The University of Maryland taught me a lot, not only in the academic context, but the fact that [I have] grown as a person,” Belcher said.
The City of College Park will hold elections on Tuesday, Nov. 3 at City Hall and Davis hall from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.