I love my neighbors who live at the corner opposite me on Stevens Forest Road, and I've never even met them. OK, that might sound creepy. But hear me out. This is a young family, a local firefighter (I think a Montgomery County firefighter), his wife, young boy, and a couple dogs. And they have done so much with their house in the year plus a few months they've owned it. Built a nice split rail fence for the dog and child (children?). They rebuilt the deck. Cut down a tree. Put up a swing set and play house and storage shed. They have a nice grill and fire pit in the middle of their yard. I love it all. This is a young family who has come to Columbia and are using their home and enjoying life. Exactly what we need to celebrate here and we need so much more of it.
And probably, if I wanted to, which I don't, I could pick out at least a half dozen covenant violations in their yard. Which is a damn shame. But also illustrative of what Columbia is at 50. Holding its age well, but yet, it's age, and attachment to things of the past, and lack of ability to adapt, is hindering it's ability to progress and realize the potential before it at this point in its history.
And so it's (BTW, are you liking my usage of "its" and "it's"? I know you are.) within this context that I received my annual ballot for this year's village elections. Specfically, the ballot for my home village of Oakland Mills.
Here's the best thing I can say about my village board this past year: they didn't make anything worse. That much I can say. And they did follow through on the last thing I pushed for when I was on the village board, which was the feasibility study for the would-be sports facility in Oakland Mills. Not sure that study went in the direction and scope that I'd have envisioned, but that's not something I'm going to hold anyone accountable for other than myself, since I didn't stick around for it.
Nevertheless, I remain concerned and disturbed that, although I'm glad to see a contested election in my village, we seem to continue to fail to attract new candidates for office. On the OM ballot, there's one new face, a fellow named Phil Anderson. I believe I remember Phil from his time as a Scoutmaster in the village and his signs are on the yards of several people in the village whose opinion and advice I respect. So I'm going to take a flyer and cast a ballot for this guy.
I'm also going to vote for Jonathan Edelson and his wife Jill. I got to know Jon on Tour of Duty III on the village board and know him to be a thoughtful, responsible member of the community and possessive of the patience and tolerance of a saint. I don't know Jill as well but in the few times I have met her I have been impressed with her enthusiasm and energy and her (and Jon's) connection to younger families in Oakland Mills. My kids are grown and I don't know couples in their 20s and 30s and what motivates them. The Edelsons do and so their presence is needed to advocate for things that will grow this demographic in our community.
I'm also strongly leading casting a ballot for Lynn-Steven Engelke. I've known Lynn and Phil Engelke since Tour of Duty I on the village board that started back in 2002. They're community stalwarts and have the design and "big picture" vision needed in our village to achieve good things.
What about the rest of the candidates? How about the candidate for CA Board/Columbia Council Rep? OK, so this. I just told you who I'm going to even consider voting for. The others aren't worthy of your consideration. Disagree with me if you want, but I won't be changing my mind. The remainder of the ballot is filled with the same folks who have practiced division and exclusion in Oakland Mills for about five years now. And yes, a couple of those folks have actually done some things that indicate steps in the right direction, I will grant that. But not enough to change my view.
Village election ballots should have arrived in mailboxes across Columbia by now. I urge everyone to choose wisely. Study the candidates and find out about their backgrounds, points of view, and priorities should they achieve office.
Whether village boards have any authority anymore in Columbia is highly debatable. But I do believe that a good village board can serve as an effective advocate and supporter for its community. On the other hand, one that's perceived as being too negative and critical-- that type of board is not perceived by local powers that be as a community helper. A bad village board can, and does, give people a negative view of the community in allegedly represents. So, like I said-- choose wisely.
Let's be careful out there.
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