I’ve lived on Holly Avenue in Takoma Park’s Ward 1 since 1992. I grew up in the Boston area, graduated from the University of Rochester, 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. Sarah and Paul attended Takoma Elementary, Piney Branch, Takoma Middle and Blair High School before they graduated from college.
Thinking about my 23 years as a Takoma Park resident makes me realize how important our remarkable city has been to me and my family. I have loved being active in the community, and since leaving the Federal Government several years ago after more than three decades, I have been even more involved, tutoring second graders at Takoma Elementary, and serving in leadership positions in many local and area groups, including
- Takoma Foundation, Board Member;
- Village of Takoma Park, Vice President;
- DC-MD Neighbors for Takoma Transit, Treasurer;
- Progressive Neighbors, Steering Committee Member;
- Crittenton Services of Greater Washington, Treasurer;
- and Community CHEER, Advisory Board Member.
One of my favorite community roles was recently serving as a judge for Takoma Park’s annual July 4th parade. Given the City’s reputation for off-beat parade entries, it will probably come as no surprise to residents that of all the awards we had to vote on, we had the lengthiest deliberations to decide the winner and runner up for the Wacky Tacky Takoma prize.
Over the course of my time in the City, I have consistently looked for places where community input and activism could have a positive impact. For example, I was happy to serve on the Takoma Park Public Safety Citizens Advisory Committee and to be picked for a spot on the City Manager Selection Committee (which chose former Manager Barb Matthews).
When there was an increased concern over crime in the PEN area, and the City secured a Federal grant for improved street lights, I was asked by our Councilmember at the time to join a Holly Avenue community panel to reconcile the crime control and historic streetscape concerns connected with the brighter lights. In addition, I was a member of an ad hoc committee on cross-border crime and public safety issues (a joint effort with Washington, DC), and a neighborhood watch volunteer.
It was also a great pleasure, though perhaps embarrassing to my children, to have been involved as a coach and participant in a range of Takoma Park recreational sports leagues.
My 30+ years of work for the Federal Government included four years in the Obama Administration as Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, plus three months as HUD’s Acting Chief of Staff. Previously, I worked on Capitol Hill for Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank in two separate stints over 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.
Politically, I have supported, contributed to, volunteered for and otherwise backed many Democratic candidates for public office, ranging from Barack Obama to Jamie Raskin to Heather Mizeur (whose recent bid for Maryland Governor I chaired).
My hobbies include arguing with family and friends (and sometimes myself) about national and local politics, staying up too late reading thick tomes on American history, and rooting for the Nationals and the Red Sox.