I've done a lot in my nearly 47 years on earth and in my 25 years of civic involvement involving and in Howard County. A lot to be proud of, nothing to be ashamed, and regrets? They're but a few.
But one of those was not running for the CA Board spot in Oakland Mills this spring. There were a few good reasons why, and they center around the current CA Board rep for Oakland Mills, Alex Hekimian.
I didn't know how I would get along with Alex when I returned to the village board. I'd heard a lot of things about him, and experienced things around him that were all negative. He was always civil and pleasant enough to me but-- well, I saw two direct oppoents of his for CA board get dragged through the mud, and one opponent against his predecessor on the CA Board for OM, who Alex supported, and what happened to them. Accusations about "this person wants to put a street through your neighborhood" and "this person hates senior citizens" and "this person wants to turn OM into a slum" and "this person is in bed with developers" and "this person is Ken Ulman's/Calvin Ball's hand-picked candidate and will be controlled by them." Among other things. All untrue. But, you know, when you are always in the middle of a garbage dump, the stink and the dirt rub off on you. And the trail follows behind wherever Alex would go.
But in working with Alex on the board-- I see good, redeeming qualities. He does a lot of constituent service. I have seen him be a good listener, ask good questions, and treat residents with respect. Not insult their intelligence. Not in that arena. So, while I can't let the electoral practices go, I learned to accept the practices of how he went about his business and decided to be an ally rather than an opponent. With the caveat that I really had no desire to run against him. Oakland Mills has had its share of bumps and bruises this past year and the last thing it needed would be another bruising CA Board race. But, should the seat become open, I would have definitely have been interested in running.
And to all of us on the village board, Alex was running again. So imagine my surprise when a former board member told me on the day after the closing of receipt of candidates' petitions in OM that Alex had decided not to run again and that Reg Avery had decided to run. And thus a problem was created. Actually more than one.
I don't mind if Reg wants to run for County Council or CA Board but I do mind his running for both. Especially when Tom Coale did the right thing and resign from the CA Board when he became a candidate for House of Delegates. And Brian Dunn did the right thing in his seeking service on the CA Board to ask for a policy waiver from the board, since his wife is a CA employee. Kings Contrivance has a great CA Board member as a result. But I do have a problem with Reg running for both things. You can't do both and in this guy's view, he needs to decide.
Moreover, the last-minute nature of this thing smacks of underhandedness and insincereity. Of course no one can or should have to prove this, but it would appear that Alex and Reg kept this to themselves for-- however long, I don't know. And no one else was notified or given a chance to seek membership on the CA Board. None of the current village board members. None of the prospective 2014-15 OM village board members. In short the entire situation reminded me of the way the Siddiquis handled their business in the Delegate race for District 13. And I didn't like how that went down. So I don't like this.
I've spent over 700 words on this and just getting started. But here's the worst problem of all. This is another avoidable situation that we in OM have brought upon ourselves that now has to be dealt with. And I don't like it. We have a lot of community building to do here. We can get a bridge. We should be pushing hard to make sure our covenants are enforced. Instead we are fighting each other and Howard County over housing issues-- of dire importance, to be sure, but without so much rancor-- and we have adopted a tone in our community where we are more focused on what we don't want rather than what we do want. A tone based on fear and anger rather than vision and promise. And so here's one more thing.
Well, it's enough.
There are some really good people who could serve OM well on the CA Board. The three former candidates I mentioned, Ian Kennedy, Julia McCready, and Phil Engelke would all be tremendous. On the current village board, Margaret Mauro and Bill Gray have the experience and perspective that would especially qualify them to be insightful, thoughtful Board members. But we also have Liz Smull and Jervis Dorton who would bring a diversity of perspective that the CA Board really needs. Of course, I have no idea if any of these people want to be on the CA Board. I'm not in their heads. Only mine.
And speaking for me-- I want to do this thing.
So what the process will be, as I understand it, in terms of the Oakland Mills CA Board seat will be that Reg will be elected by the village, then in May, when the new CA Board first meets, the Board will consider the case of Reg Avery's dual candidacy. The new CA Board could elect to seat Reg on the CA Board. If so, done deal. But if not, that sends the decision back to the village. How would the village determine the new CA Board member for OM? Unknown at this time.
What I am saying is that if the CA Board decides not to seat Reg Avery, that I intend to be a candidate to be the new CA Board member for Oakland Mills. Be it via special election, appointment, or whatever other means. I have the experience, knowhow, and the vision to represent Oakland Mills and move CA forward. I think to talk about more of a platform is a tad premature at this point (and this post is now over 1100 words) but I have written a lot on here about issues like the Inner Arbor, downtown development, and the bridge.
And I am sure that this blog will be the #1 club used against me by any potential oppoents. It's the only club they have, really. Which is OK. This blog is meant to inform, but also, as I have written many times before, to entertain, amuse, and provoke, among other things. People who know me from actually serving on boards and organizations know me to be a reasoned, thoughtful, principled leader. And I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to bring that to the CA Board.
I get that this is the longest of longshots. I get that maybe I should have just threw my name in the hat for the election. It's a hold 'em hand where my only shot is the king of spades to complete a royal flush, on the last card. But I have a voice and a brain and a heart and a soul and passion, and this issue is going to get those qualities in spades (pun intended) over the next several weeks.
And in my heart of hearts, it is time for OM to get back to the business of elevating itself, even while we deal with many serious issues that hold us back. We always have to keep building. Building is what I do. Vision is what I do. And I hope that the CA Board and the residents of Oakland Mills realize that we can do and deserve better, and I hope I can be considered to serve on the CA Board.
Let's be careful out there.