Well, it took a little longer than usual to count the votes in Takoma Park’s local election. That’s what happens when there’s a record voter turnout in the middle of a pandemic. But the results are in (https://takomaparkmd.gov/news/city-election-information/election-day-results/), and with the vast majority of the ballots now counted I’m delighted to have been chosen by the residents of Ward One to represent them on the City Council.
Thanks to all the friends and neighbors who voted for me -- I’m honored to have your support!
I’ve had the opportunity to work for and with a range of elected officials. But it was only when my own name was on the ballot in my first City Council race that I truly felt on a personal level what it can mean when people cast their ballots. As a candidate, being picked by residents to represent them is an expression of trust that’s very humbling. I hope to live up to the confidence Ward One voters have one again placed in me.
Of course, we have a lot of challenges here in Takoma Park, including working to alleviate the impacts of COVID on residents and businesses; making progress on addressing racial equity and eliminating systemic racism; advancing our climate change efforts; promoting more affordability in the City; expanding community engagement; and appropriately managing development. And we need to debate our differences on those and other issues in a respectful manner, without acrimony.
I know that can be difficult when passions run high, and when we’ve had an atrocious model at the national level for the past four years in the Trump administration. But now that we’re going to have the Joe Biden administration (!!), I’m hopeful that signals a more collaborative style of public discourse. I’ll continue putting a high priority on encouraging that approach at our local level.
I’d like to offer a special thanks to all those who endorsed my candidacy, took a yard sign, hosted a virtual event, or otherwise supported my campaign. And I couldn’t have mounted the campaign without the backing of my family, including especially my spouse Paula Kowalczuk, who is also my treasurer and web master.
In addition, I appreciate the many residents who engaged with me on local matters during the campaign through in-person meetings, Zoom calls, phone conversations, email and social media exchanges, and casual chats in the neighborhood. Those interactions helped deepen my understanding of the issues residents care about. I look forward to representing everyone from PEN, North Takoma and Hodges Heights as we start another Council term. In the coming weeks I’ll be reaching out to Ward One residents to discuss priorities for 2021.
Congratulations also to Mayor Stewart and my fellow Councilmembers who are returning to office, and to their many volunteers. I look forward to joining with all my colleagues to continue working on the many key issues we face in the City.
Thanks also to the Board of Elections, the Election Day volunteers, and City Clerk Jessie Carpenter and the other City staff, without whom the election and vote tabulation wouldn’t have been possible.
Earlier this year I imagined the biggest challenge related to our election would be ensuring a smooth process in our first year of synchronizing City votes with Federal, State and County ballots. COVID-19 changed that, and our switch to mail-in and drop-off ballots meant the final count took several extra days. When the Council and the community look back at this election, we’ll need to consider whether in the future we should stick with a mail-in/drop-off system, return to the in-person voting we’ve used in the past, or perhaps adopt a hybrid approach.
Meanwhile, there are a few key upcoming events as we transition to the new Council. On Thursday, November 12 at 7:30 PM the Council will meet with the Board of Elections for formal certification of the election results. On Monday, November 16, the current Council will have its final official meeting at Noon, followed by the swearing-in of the Mayor and Councilmembers at 1:30 PM (the swearing-in will be done in-person outside the Community Center). The newly elected Council will have its first meeting on Wednesday, November 18 at 7:30 PM. With the exception of the swearing-in, these events will be virtual.
Thanks again to everyone who participated in the election. Stay safe and healthy!
Peter Kovar, Takoma Park City Council, Ward One