To my Ward 5 and Takoma Park neighbors,
Every election cycle, I get calls from friends who know I’ve spent the last 20 years involved in local politics, asking who to vote for and what county and state-wide questions to support. Progressive Neighbors’ endorsements are below and you can find explanations for each decision on their website. JUFJ (Jews United for Justice - https://jufj.org/where-we-work/montgomery-county-md/) also has a good website explanation for their endorsements.
I want to be clear that even though my wife and I share an email this email is from me. While we agree on many things, we don’t speak for each other when it comes to elections. We are individuals.
And, the vitriol that appears in these listservs are often quite disturbing, making someone reluctant to share their thoughts and be attacked, something this on-line format makes so easy. I offer my opinion not to start a war of words among a group of folks, but because I have been asked. You can agree, disagree, but please don’t pick apart words and sentences in a broadcast email. This is just one person’s opinion. If you want to have a private conversation with me, let me know by email and we can set something up.
So, for Takoma Park, here are my endorsements:
Ward 5 City Council
Jarrett Smith, our current council representative, does not seek the limelight. For someone in political life, that is almost unheard of. Politicians are supposed to promote themselves. Otherwise, they appear to be doing nothing. So, while it is not characteristic of a politician, Jarrett has been quietly working on many issues of concern to Ward 5. He seems to put a lot of energy on one-to-one problem solving, that he doesn’t “advertise”. He is continuing to learn in the role and recognizes some short-comings, like the need to reach out to the ward with better communication. He is a quiet and modest public servant.
More broadly, he has been the courageous and strongest of the two lone wolves against the Junction as the plan has been presented. For those of you who have been following the project these past 4 years or so, the plan is not workable on so many levels, Jarrett recognizes that it is not right for our community. Further, he disapproves of the project because of the divisiveness and contention it has caused among neighbors.
Jarrett attended and spoken at regularly scheduled picnics (such as for the last 4 years in our immediate neighborhood with an "agenda" and speakers) and hosted a local debate/discussion with our D-20 delegates. He prepares for and represents us at regular Council meetings and sponsored the plastic ban ordinance, led the creation of Montgomery College Scholarship and our city's Fund Racial Equity policy that was unanimously adopted by this City Council. (According to Jarrett, measurable implementation hasn’t happened).
Jarrett was also instrumental in the paving of Flower Ave. with its better sidewalks and rain gardens, which, until he took office, was not a project envisioned by the Mayor or Council. In fact, they opposed it!
When a representative has been working for the ward and wants to continue to do so, supporting them is a way to say, please continue your work. Otherwise, why should a representative do anything if their efforts are not supported and acknowledged.
His opponent, Sawa Kamara’s, new to Ward 5 politics, visions are perhaps similar to Jarrett’s except I sense her support of the current Junction plan lacks the understanding of the totality of the opposition. Her questions about the plan seem to fall in line with, a few tweaks and all is good. It is surprising she is not standing more forcefully behind the Co-op since she is a former board member. Sawa’s outreach with her survey is a good thing but illustrates to me that she does not have an understanding of the issues unique to Ward 5. It is an every-issue-on-the-globe kind of survey.
Sawa’s organizing is impressive. Advocates and activists are needed on the “outside” advocating and organizing in the community and others are better suited on the inside under the constraints of a political structure. I feel her recent advocacy and activism in Ward 5 should be encouraged and once she’s become more involved and well-known, run for Ward 5 Council.
While I hope that any elected representative of our Ward will work hard for us, I feel Jarrett’s courage and quiet outreach where our community needs it most (which I suspect is why many of us do not hear more about what he is doing), continues to earn his seat on the Council.
Good afternoon all,
I hope my email finds you and your family doing well. We are living in extraordinary times. It is important to check on your neighbors and friends. The pandemic has shown us all nothing is guaranteed.
I want to thank Mike for his email. It captured some of my policy positions. It also was a succinct portrait of my leadership style. I was raised to be humble even in the midst of accomplishment.
There is one point Mike mentioned I would like to clarify. It has to do with the Flower Avenue Green Street. I have written that the project was supported by my predecessor and his council colleagues. Who included talented legislators like Seth Grimes and Tim Male. They taught me a lot about making policy.
The project was part of PW's CIP list, but it lacked sufficient funding. The type of funding required to deliver the street you see today. I sponsored a resolution to overturn the prohibition that the City's General Fund would not be used to support Flower Avenue's redevelopment. Here is a link to the resolution: https://documents.takomaparkmd.gov/government/city-council/resolutions/2013/resolution-2013-21.pdf. My initial efforts can be tied to $5,692.754 of the investment into Ward 5. The resolution above gave the City the opportunity to apply to the Federal TAP grant program. I believe the utility providers came around to replacing their hundred year old infrastructure because they saw significant funding dedicated to Flower Avenue. I do not take credit of any of the money that was secured prior to my policy action. Former Councilmember Snipper led that effort.
Finally, I want to thank staff, our construction vendor and planning consultant, RK&K. Furthermore, a special thanks needs to go out to residents. I appreciate your patience. We did it!!!