Ward 3 Voter Guide 2014: Why are you running?

Why are you running?

[ezcol_1third] JeffN_200


Growing up in the City, I developed a love of policy and politics and a desire to make a difference.

Environmental issues were my first true political interest and continue to be my passion today.  My lifelong love of nature constantly inspires me to service.

I am running because I want to give back to and serve the community I love.

I am running because at 31 years of age, I would bring youth, new fresh and important perspectives, and serve as a generational bridge on the Council in a town many young residents are leaving.  I can provide the Council and City additional experience, comfort, expertise with technology to help our government be more efficient and transparent.

Also, I also think that is important to have a current renter’s experience on the Council given how many renters are in Takoma Park and our pride in our affordable housing efforts.

I am running because as a Montgomery County Government employee, I see first-hand the problems people are facing and how elected officials, unfortunately, not only have the power to make things better but can also make things worse.  In addition, since Marc Elrich left for the County Council, I believe we have missed having a voice on the City Council that provides that local government employee’s view on the Council.

Last and certainly not least, I am running because we rarely have a choice in our local elections; a tragic state of affairs that is harmful to the health of our system of democratically representative self-government.  I am running because the City needs more people involved.  For a city with as many activists as we have on all levels of government, it is appalling how little involvement we have with our most local level of government, the City.

The Council has a vital role, along with the City’s residents and businesses, in maintaining and promoting Takoma Park’s unique character.

Finally, I want to quote the a saying that was instilled in me by living in Takoma Park and yet is an aspiration we often fall short of, I want us to “Think Globally and Act Locally.”

I am not running to radically reform or transform our City’s government but to make sure that it serves my fellow Ward 3 residents to the greatest extent practical.  I am also willing to take office ready to learn from veteran council members and the staff that keep the City running on a daily basis. I believe that all these factors would lead me to work well with all the city’s stakeholders, not just the city’s activists.



[ezcol_1third] Roger-Schlegel-200


I am asking Ward 3 voters to choose me for the job of finishing out Kay Daniels Cohen’s term because others have asked me to run, and because I feel that the knowledge, local experience, and available time that I can invest at this particular juncture could be of great service to our community.

I had to resolve some issues related to family and work responsibilities before entering the race, and this is why I was the last of the three candidates to submit a petition. I will address directly a question which I know is a topic of concern among some voters, and that is the question of whether it is advisable to vote for a male candidate when the other six council positions are currently held by men.

I know that this is the deciding factor for some people in terms of how they will cast their vote, and I do respect these voters’ right to make that the deciding factor. In my own experience, when there are two or more candidates who are equally acceptable, I tend to vote for the candidate who brings greater diversity to the table.

In light of the current status of the Council as all-male, I took some extra time to inquire among women whose perspectives I share whether there would be anyone willing to run. When both women and men continued to ask me to run, I brought up the question of gender balance directly, and everyone I spoke with said that, while the overall ideal would be to have a gender-balanced council, that should not be the determining factor in judging who is the best candidate in any particular election. To those voters who might be ruling out voting for me (or Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum) because of the gender factor, I would ask that they consider whether having an all-male city council between now and the next nominating caucus (17 months away) might actually do more to encourage female candidates to run for office across the city in 2015.

I do feel that I can add diversity to the Council in other dimensions such as occupation (teacher), professional training, educational background, experience as a stay-at-home dad, Spanish language ability, communication style, and experience working in majority-African-American local governments.

Setting this question aside, I would like to help Takoma Park respond more effectively to basic needs as well as long-term challenges. I want to help change the climate of and approach to public discussion in our community so that more people feel encouraged and welcomed to participate in elections and other important decisions.

I see climate change as an existential threat even greater than that once posed by the proposed construction of a freeway through town, and I want to help energize our community around the goal of reducing our ecological footprint in dramatic ways. I would like to help the Council spend more time on strategic planning and oversight, so that less time needs to be spent on constituent service.

I want to push for a goals-oriented budget process so that our government models efficient stewardship of resources, which is so important for the environment. I have observed firsthand that, intentionally or no, insiders tend to see their concerns prioritized above those of people who are less socially connected in our community; and I would like to help overcome that pattern.

I have observed that, when faced with possible change, our community has a tendency to respond with fear, which leads to fighting, which ends in fatigue; and I would instead like to help our public discussions begin with facts, which can lead to fair solutions, which can build friendship over time.



[ezcol_1third_end]  kates-200


Our city councilperson, Kay Daniels-Cohen, left a legacy of service and dedication to our community.  When I learned of her death, I reflected on how much I have benefitted from living in Takoma Park—taking advantage of amazing community resources, such as the library and recreation department, learning from the unique character and diversity of our community, and enjoying the city’s the natural beauty.

I am running because I want to give back to a community that has provided my family so much and because I have skills and experience that can benefit our city government. As executive vice-president of Advocates for Youth and a former small business owner I have experience managing a large staff, complex projects, and multimillion-dollar budgets.

I would like to have the opportunity to put my skills to work for our community and to make our city even better for the people who live here.



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