Since 1992, I’ve lived on Holly Avenue in Takoma Park’s Ward One, which is made up of PEN, North Takoma, Hodges Heights, and the Old Town commercial area. I grew up in the Boston area, and called Washington, DC home for 10 years before moving to Takoma Park. If you live in the neighborhood, you may have met my wife Paula Kowalczuk, my daughter Sarah, her husband John, or my son Paul. Both of my children attended Takoma Elementary, Piney Branch, Takoma Middle and Blair before they graduated from college and moved on to other challenges.
I worked for the Federal Government for over 30 years, including four years in the Obama Administration as an Assistant Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Earlier, I worked on Capitol Hill for Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank for 25 years, including 18 years as Chief of Staff in his Washington Office. I also worked in Senator John Kerry’s office for a year. I try to apply what I learned in those jobs – including how different levels of government can work together effectively – to my work on the Council, for the benefit of Takoma Park.
Over the years, I’ve looked for ways to have a positive impact on the community. For example, I served on the Public Safety Citizens Advisory Committee, on an earlier City Manager Selection Committee, and an ad hoc Takoma Park-Washington, DC cross-border crime and public safety group. In addition, I was active in the Neighborhood Watch and was part of a temporary panel that worked to resolve questions about the quality and style of street lights on Holly Avenue. For many years I coached my kids’ sports teams and also played in the adult softball league.
Since leaving the Federal Government in 2013, I’ve been involved in a range of local activities like tutoring second graders at Takoma Elementary, and serving in local groups, including the Takoma Foundation, the Village of Takoma Park, DC-MD Neighbors for Takoma Transit (which led the fight to right-size the proposed Takoma Metro Station development), and Progressive Neighbors.
I’m the Treasurer of Crittenton Services of Greater Washington (which provides vital services to teen girls in DC and Montgomery County public schools). I’m also on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Air Quality Committee, and have been involved with the National League of Cities Community and Economic Development Committee.
Now I’m proud to represent a neighborhood where I know every street and block – I can walk from my home to the farthest reaches of Ward One in little more than 15 minutes. In addition to working on behalf of long-time neighbors and new families who are moving in, I’ve also enjoyed participating in fun local traditions like marching in the Independence Day Parade, and judging the Old Town pie contest and the Halloween Monster Bash costume contest, not to mention teaching juggling at Play Days and helping weed small public gardens.
It’s not clear when we’ll be able to return to events of that type, which are heavily focused on public gatherings. COVID-19 has changed our day to day lives in so many ways. But I look forward to playing an active role in the continuing public discussions on how to keep the community safe, and when we can consider a gradual return to larger group activities.