By Sara Karlovitch
College Park Mayor Patrick L. Wojahn does not know who is going to win the Game of Thrones.
“I have no idea. I don’t watch that show” Wojahn said, laughing. While Wojahn has never taken an interest in the politics of the fictional Westeros, he has taken an active interest in politics ever since he was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. During his junior year, he spent time in Moscow working with the local LGBTQ community.
“I was inspired by seeing what they’ve seen, what they did there,” Wojahn, who is gay, said. “In the adversity and challenges, they’ll fight for what they believe in despite all that. It inspired me to do more when I came back to the United States.”
After finishing college, Wojahn took a gap year before law school to work for the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group on environmental issues. He attended Georgetown University for law school and moved to College Park in 2003. He was a city councilmember for 8 years before his mayoral election in 2016.
Since taking office, Wojahn has worked to see the “revitalization” of College Park. He said that his biggest achievement so far has been, “really (to) change the appearance and the feel of the city to make it more, feel more like a college town and have more of the amenities of a college town.”
Wojahn said that the 2008 recession hurt the development of the city. “I think we’d be a lot further along with pre-development if we tried to take advantage of more opportunities that came up before the recession hit,” Wojahn said.
Matt Mozelaski, a second-year master of information management student, has lived in College Park since 2016. He said he likes the trajectory the city is on. “Him and (Wallace) Loh and the city council kind of work together a lot better than they have in the past” Mozelaski said.
Councilmember John Rigg was the only member of the College Park City Council to return a request for comment. He has known Wojahn since 2008. “I generally agree with Mayor Wojahn,” Rigg said. “There are points of disagreement, of course, but I find myself voting with him… 90+ percent of the time.”
Rigg said in an email that, “The amount of time he spends on what is pretty close to a volunteer position” stands out to him. “In addition to the scheduled Mayor and Council meetings, he also helps plan our meetings, and represents the city at a whole lot of local, regional, and national events,” Rigg said.
“Being the mayor isn’t full time,” Wojahn said. His day job is director of government relations at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that turns old train lines into running and biking trails. “It means long days of work, sometimes I’ll go do a put in a full day of work at my job and then still have meetings to go to for the city… But I love it. It’s challenging, but it’s fun.”
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of The City of College Park, MD’s Facebook page.
Sara Karlovitch is a sophomore journalism and government and politics major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.