I was born in DC and moved to Montgomery County when I was pretty young - I attended McKenney Hills Elementary School, Montgomery Hills Junior High School, and Einstein High School. After attending college at the University of Maryland, I raised my family in Takoma Park. My wife and I fostered and then adopted two Down Syndrome boys in addition to our two biological children. One of our adopted sons, now 51, lives with me. And my daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren live around the corner, in a house I built.
My observation of racial injustice is a large part of what motivated me to get involved in politics. Growing up, I witnessed blockbusting firsthand when a real estate agent came to my door to talk to my mom. The idea that my mother was being told that Black families moving into a neighborhood would depress the property values and destroy the neighborhood sounded wrong to me then. By 1958, most of my friends were Black. My growing realization was that they weren’t treated the same way I was and didn’t have the same opportunities I had. I marched in Dr. King’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and got involved in the civil rights movement, and when I went to the University of Maryland, I worked to desegregate the campus, College Park businesses, and local apartments. I also got actively involved in the anti-war movement.
I started out doing community and tenant organizing in Montgomery County around 1980 and was active in numerous resident efforts for more responsible land-use policies, including the fight to prevent a mega mall in downtown Silver Spring and build street-facing retail instead. I ran for elected office because I thought I could make more of an impact on these and other issues in more systemic ways than I could ever make given three minutes to testify in front of a microphone.
I have represented the entire county as an at-large County Councilmember since 2006 and I chair the Public Safety Committee and serve on the Education Committee. I also represent the County Council at the Transportation Planning Board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.