What is your prior civic involvement—i.e. committees, volunteer efforts, activism on city issues, neighborhood groups, and so forth?
I have been a Takoma Park resident for practically my entire 32 years of life, all of that in Ward 3 where I am running. I have also lived in three distinct areas of the Ward (Cockerille Ave across from Spring Park in Circle Woods, Eastern Ave in WACO, and now Manor Circle in SS Carroll). I went to all three public schools in the City and would frequently walk to the library at the end of the day. (I also graduated from Montgomery College and have used their athletic facilities and library.)
I also played in the Recreation Department’s soccer league as a kid. I grew up attending and very involved at Takoma Park Presbyterian Church and was a member of Boy Scout Troop 33.
I also helped with various projects and activities during the active period of the Takoma Park-Santa Marta Sister City relationship. My career has been in government service. The only job I have had not in the public sector was at Taliano’s Restaurant in Old Town before it closed. My public sector work experience has been mostly in government with some in non-profits.
My recent engagement in Takoma Park area civic affairs include
- Eight years as a volunteer with the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts.
- Serving as an election judge for the City in 2003, 2005, and 2013 as well as for the Ward 5 Special Election in 2012.
- Running for the Ward 3 Council seat in 2011.
- Serving on the City’s Board of Elections in 2012 and 2013 and helped to implement smoothly the new voting election rules passed by the Council last summer.
- Serving as one of the Board of Elections representatives to and co-chair of the City’s current Task Force on Voting.
I have always accomplished things listening to others, thinking deeply about the issues, and working to ensure that the City takes thoughtful and effective action. By nature, I am very comfortable working in the world of ideas, so you can trust me to take a balanced approach to issues with a fresh perspective, rather than rushing to an opinion for the sake of taking an action just to look efficient.
One of the reasons I love Takoma Park and stay here is that we have so many dedicated individuals who care about helping other people and making the world a better place. In other words, I have Takoma Park in my DNA and yet still am young enough to bring a fresh perspective.
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In 2012-2013, I served as a co-chair, with Kathy Porter and Shanika Whitehurst, of the City Manager Selection Task Force. Our leadership team dealt effectively with uncertainty at the start of the process about how the City Council might decide questions concerning a city manager residency requirement and the degree of Council involvement in the hiring of department heads. We conducted a methodical and amicable process that was, by all accounts, fair, thorough, and inclusive.
During this process, I was instrumental in drafting the selection criteria, and I also planned the city tour that all candidates took on their interview days. I served as a co-Secretary on the Takoma Junction Task Force in 2010-2012. I worked with Kay Daniels Cohen and Megan Gallagher to design and carry out a conscientious and extensive community outreach effort which involved a series of neighborhood meetings as well as interviews with business owners. I carried out careful research to ensure that past initiatives related to the Junction were given due consideration in the process. I extensively researched issues such as traffic flow, pedestrian access, and parking availability and also took photographs of conditions around the Junction. I took the lead in drafting and revising large sections of the report and compiling the text of the final report. I also played a key role in formulating a list of priority action areas when the group was requested to do so in the spring of 2012.
I have continued to pay close attention to Junction issues and recently testified to the Council twice about the need for care and attention to community concerns in advancing the request for proposals for development of the City-owned lot.
I have been an active leader in the Pinecrest Community Association for several years. I was elected president in 2010. We refined our charter about eighteen months ago so that we now have an executive committee that operates by consensus; I am an active member of that committee. During these years, Pinecrest
- has organized a cleanup of Sligo Mill-Poplar Mill Woods;
- has held annual barbeques to increase membership and to connect residents with elected officials and city staff;
- has organized the neighborhood to push for a more continuous network of sidewalks—a project which is now in the design phase;
- has put together block parties and play days;
- has advocated for the installation of a children’s play area in Sligo Mill Overlook Park, in consultation with Sligo Mill Overlook community gardeners;
- has applied for and received a grant from the Takoma Foundation for a Multicultural Film Series, now in progress;
- has hosted a candidates’ forum;
- has strived to get City responsiveness on code enforcement issues;
- has reinstated the practice of distributing a periodic newsletter;
- has monitored and provided comment on two pending development projects;
- has worked to achieve cooperation of local light-industrial businesses in reducing parking congestion and reducing truck traffic on Orchard Avenue and nearby streets; and
- has contacted police to try to resolve an ongoing pattern of robberies on New Hampshire Avenue.
We are very proud of the way our group, working together, has forged new friendships and built a greater sense of identity in our diverse neighborhood.
I served as a co-president of the Takoma Park Cooperative Nursery School (also known as the “Purple School”) from January 2009 through the spring of 2011. This very active role involved an average of 15 hours of work per week. Our leadership team was assertive in addressing long-term issues, communicating those issues to the member families, responding to member input, and making wise decisions to ensure the long-term health of the school. We also carried out a process of revising our mission statement and of formulating a new organizational structure that placed children at the center.
Last year I began a three-year term as a school trustee. In the winter of 2011, I worked in an ad-hoc group with Mayor Williams and others to create a “budget game” which would serve as a tool for allowing residents to understand the trade-offs involved in developing the city budget in a time of scarcity.
In 2009-2010, I participated in the Old Takoma Business Association. I helped to develop and deliver a presentation on the OTBA Market Analysis and its recommendations.
With the support and assistance of neighbors and friends in 2009, I ran for mayor. With no name recognition at the start, I ran a five-week long positive campaign that was focused on the issues, and I received 40 percent of the vote. In the process, I learned a great deal about the workings of our city government and established relationships with Council members and residents from around town.
I have testified on several occasions before the City Council about the need for a goals-oriented, or program-based, approach to budgeting. In 2006, I helped to form an ad-hoc citizens group called Southern Montgomery Climate Action. We focused our efforts on accelerating the transition to the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs (before Congress mandated their use). Our campaign culminated with our participation in the Independence Day Parade.
I serve as the Board President for the Great Noise Ensemble, a two-time “Wammy”-award-winning modern classical music group which includes members from Takoma Park and its environs.
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Community service and participation are important parts of my life in Takoma Park. Over the years, I helped begin the BFGilbert listserv, revived and ran a neighborhood safety patrol, and helped construct the playground at Spring Park. As my daughters grew up, I began to coach soccer and focused on volunteering in the schools, coordinating staff appreciation efforts when they were at TPES and co-leading an afterschool team-building group for students.
I also led a community effort to protest a decision by PBS stations across the country, including our own local station, not to air an episode of a children’s program because it featured a same-sex couple.
I organized an event at the Community Center, which over 125 people attended. During the event, we aired the banned cartoon, had crafts and entertainment for children, provided opportunities to send letters to protest the ban, and held a discussion on the importance of diversity and inclusiveness with city and state officials. The event was covered in the Gazette.
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