COUNCIL FRESHMEN: Peter Kovar

BY DYSTANY MUSE

Peter Kovar is the new Ward 1 Takoma Park city councilmember.

He was elected on Nov. 3 and sworn in Nov. 16, replacing former councilmember Seth Grimes.

Kovar had two opponents, Victor Thuronyi and Elizabeth Wallace. Kovar received 630 votes to Thuronyi’s 32 and Wallace’s 86.

Peter Kovar grew up in Massachusetts and attended the University of Rochester in New York.

He lived in Washington, D.C. before moving to Takoma Park in 1992.

“We really live in a unique place which has this incredible sense of community,” said Kovar.

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Peter Kovar on the right, with his wife Paula Kowalczuk, at the council inaugural, Nov. 16. Photo by Eric Bond.

“I’ve knocked on the door of all the houses in the ward over the course of September and October,” said Kovar on his effort to get residents’ votes before election day.

He said he learned a lot going door-to-door in his ward. He found that constituents in different parts of the ward had different issues: parking near Old Takoma, Montgomery College near the campus. Some issues were a concern only in small areas, he said.

Kovar said residents reported that parking and increased development are two of the biggest ward issues.

“We don’t want development to destroy the things that I think everybody here loves about Takoma Park,” said Kovar, who is in favor of monitoring upcoming development.

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City Manager Suzanne Ludlow and Peter Kovar after the swearing-in. Photo by Eric Bond.

Kovar wants to keep the city affordable by lowering taxes. He supports rent control and he supports increasing translation for immigrant communities so that they are aware of all the opportunities in the city, such as voting.

To ensure the city is affordable for residents of all incomes, he supports tenant protections, affordable housing and increased youth employment. Increased community policing can also help ensure that law enforcement interactions with youth are positive.

Kovar favored the referendum synchronizing Takoma Park’s municipal elections with Federal and State elections. This referendum was approved on Nov. 3.

Kovar bases his positions on what he has heard from residents, he says.

“I think a key part of any effort like this is all the volunteer help that you get so I’ll be thanking all the people who volunteer and thanking all the people who voted,” said Kovar in an interview concerning the first thing he would do after the election.

Kovar is married with two children, Paul and Sarah. He is a member of several D.C. and Maryland-area committees and groups.

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Kovar, on far left, awaits election results, Nov. 3, 2015 in the Takoma Park Community Center lobby. Photo by Bill Brown.

He serves as Vice President of the Village of Takoma Park, an all-volunteer organization of neighbors helping aging neighbors. He also serves as the Treasurer of DC-MD Neighbors for Takoma Transit and Crittenton Services of Greater Washington, which empowers teen girls to overcome obstacles.

Kovar is a board member of the Takoma Foundation and is Advisory Board Member of Community CHEER. He also serves as a Steering Committee Member of Progressive Neighbors, a group active in issues, both locally and nationally, on issues of peace, education, housing, labor, gender, health care, civil rights, democracy, environment, and transportation.

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Kover tries out his seat at the Nov. 16 swearing-in session. Ward 5 Councilmember Jarrett Smith is on his right. Photo by Eric Bond.

He has worked in the Federal Government for more than three decades. In the Obama Administration, he worked as an Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at the Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD, where he also served as Acting Chief of Staff.

He worked on for Congressmen Barney Frank as his Chief of Staff in D.C. and served in Senator John Kerry’s office.