Thank you for joining me here today as I kick off my campaign for County Council. I cannot think of a better place to gather with you. A building that has stood empty for such a long time that barely any of us can remember the previous tenants. A building that I once saw from the window of the MARC train as I traveled from Union Station to Baltimore when I worked for the Governor's Office of Smart Growth under Governor Glendening. A building that truly represents the potential and opportunity that exists in this county. A building that will soon have its first tenant, Bikram Yoga. Little did I know that one day I would call Riverdale Park my home and that I would be standing in this building to officially launch my campaign for elected office.
It was the University of Maryland that first brought me here. I was a graduate student in the School of Public Policy when I first discovered the wonderful residents and neighborhoods that are tucked behind our unappealing suburban corridors. During this time, I volunteered for Housing Initiative Partnership to survey residents and lay the groundwork for future artist housing near Hyattsville Elementary School. My husband and I knew that the auto dealerships in Hyattsville were being bought for future development and that there was talk of a Purple Line that would connect Prince George's County and Montgomery County. We chose a home we could safely walk to from the College Park Metro Station, a home that will celebrate its 108th anniversary this year. It had been an abused rental for years with broken windows, missing interior doors, a roof that needed replacing immediately, and a boiler that stopped working just as soon as the papers were signed. But, we believed in the future of this area and the future of this county.
For the past seven years, I have had the wonderful opportunity to work as chief of staff to County Councilman Eric Olson and the opportunity to work to move this county forward. In this role, I have worked on countless projects and policy initiatives, brought development projects to fruition, and coordinated constituent services. I believe the district needs a visionary policy maker able to successfully implement new ideas while being an ambassador and committed advocate for our county and its residents. As councilwoman, I will continue to use the strengths I have employed as chief of staff—a determination to deliver positive change, a legislative style grounded in fairness and professionalism, a passion to fight for those who cannot always raise their voices, a desire to find solutions, and a refusal to accept the status quo if it doesn’t deliver the results needed. This is my commitment, my promise to you
Just as I walked from the College Park Metro Station on a cold January night to my future house to ensure that I felt safe walking home, all of our residents must and should feel safe walking to the store, to school, or from the Metro or bus stop at night. Our children need to be able to safely bike from school to home. We are making tremendous progress in this area, but our work is not yet done. We need to address high recidivism rates by emulating programs like the one in Newark under Cory Booker, which helps ex-offenders write resumes, acquire appropriate clothes, find stable housing, and connect to jobs. And, we need to continue to drive down our homicide rate and focus on domestic violence.
All of our children deserve the very best, so we must provide a quality education for every child in this county. The County Executive and the Prince George's Delegation took bold action last year and began the hard work of improving our schools after years of deep cutbacks and challenges. The work has just begun to ensure that all of our children succeed whether they are at Beacon Heights Elementary or at Glenarden Woods like my daughter or at Riverdale Elementary, where my son will start in August. Our teachers need mentors and access to professional development so they can deliver their very best to our children. The counselors in our high schools cannot possibly serve all of our students—from those who are struggling to those who are average—when they have hundreds and hundreds of kids to focus on. Investment in school infrastructure is needed across the county, but especially at William Wirt Middle School, and we need to build new schools in areas seeing population growth.
Most importantly, we need to deliver jobs to Prince George's County. Since 2008, we have lost thousands of jobs and barely regained any of them. We continue to struggle compared to the rest of the region. Establishing the county as a great place to live and do business will demand work by all of us. It requires nurturing quality residential, office, and retail development at our Metro Stations such as College Park and New Carrollton and Seabrook MARC and revitalizing our key corridors such as Route 1, Kenilworth Avenue, and Route 450 as well as leveraging assets such as the University of Maryland, NASA Goddard, and Andrews Air Force Base to create additional job opportunities. It also requires investing in growing our small businesses and encouraging entrepreneurship. By establishing incubators such as a commercial kitchen incubator for those interested in the food industry or incubators for high-tech, design, or green businesses, the public sector can help encourage innovation and local jobs.
Kendra—thank you for making an investment here by opening Bikram Yoga. I would also like to thank the Spiropoulos family for opening their new Town Center Market, the owners of the Ivy Lounge Spa and Salon that just opened on Route 1, and Mike Arnold and Shine Massage and Wellness Studio. Your investment, coupled with public investment such as the trolley trail, which is now under construction, is creating a more vibrant community and adding local jobs and investment.
I can do none of this without you. District 3 truly has immense talent and expertise, and I will be calling on all of you to lend a hand. Community is not built in a vacuum, success happens when we are all working together to reach a common goal—an even greater, thriving Prince George’s County. I look forward to working with you as your next councilmember for District 3, and I ask you for your vote in the primary this June.
I want to thank all of you for your support and encouragement of this campaign. I thank all of you who have donated your time by going out door knocking with me or who have donated money to keep this campaign running. I want to thank Sue Mondeel, one of our local entrepreneurs, who has now set up her furniture business at Community Forklift and transformed this vacant space for this event. I want to thank in particular my core campaign team: Sarah Wayland, Sarah Zolad, Efren Flores, Julie Forker, Alan Thompson, Garth Moore, Wanda Brooks, and my husband, Steve Glaros. I most especially want to thank my beautiful and talented children, Lillian and Evan, who are the reasons why I want to make this county the best it can be. It truly takes a village to run a campaign. Thank you all for being my village.