The early signs of spring bring feelings of renewal and new beginnings. The darker, less colorful days of winter are in the rearview mirror as the flowers bloom and the birds begin their summer songs.
There have been other signs of renewal, new beginnings and normalcy all around us, and for me, these things conjure up similar feelings of excitement for what is on the horizon, while not forgetting the road we have traveled, and those who have been with us along the way.
As your councilmember, I have three roles. To legislate, to be the final fiscal authority, and to provide responsive constituent services. I want to shine some light on the latter and what I have had the privilege to see in the past few months. These are the moments that are so full of what “community” means and why I chose to call this district home.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was answering daily emails and phone calls from business owners who were struggling to survive the shutdown. Some made the difficult decision to close their doors forever. Others were able to pivot, and pivot dramatically, to stay in business. There were few ribbon cuttings to welcome new businesses or celebrate milestones. It was dark and dreary, much like winter.
In the last two months, I have seen activity behind retail spaces that sat vacant. The weeks are starting to fill again with new businesses and revamped businesses ready to cut the celebratory ribbon and kick off their hopeful future as a business in Anne Arundel County. This should serve as an incredible reminder of how much each local business makes up the colorful fabric of our community and our economy. It is truly an honor to be part of grand openings and ribbon cuttings, presenting a citation to each business owner, as they fulfill a personal dream.
I often share these moments as an example of how our local economy works and the role of the council as the final fiscal authority, with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who are working to earn a badge, one that requires an interview with a local elected leader. For the last two years, I have been welcomed into the living rooms, kitchens and dining rooms of scout groups all across our district, as we discussed local government in our assigned boxes on a virtual meeting screen. Having an opportunity to educate these young people about local government is truly incredible.
At our March 21 council meeting, I was excited to welcome the first pack group from our district since 2019 into council chambers for a discussion on local government. Pack 727 concluded its visit by leading our meeting with the pledge of allegiance, a responsibility they gave the utmost attention to. Our children are our future, and our scout organizations do an outstanding job to facilitate additional learning and hand-on experiences for these young people.
Children in our county were the passion of Anne Arundel school board member Candace Antwine, who served on the school board from December 2018 until her unexpected passing in July 2021. Candace gave so much of her time and attention to children and families in our school system, with a special focus on military families. As a mother and U.S. Navy veteran, Candace knew too well the needs and challenges military families often face. Her death was an incredible loss to her family, her community and our county. I applaud the school board members’ desire to continue the spirit of Ms. Antwine’s work through the Candace C.W. Antwine Military Service Award. The funds raised through this initiative will help young service members as they start their “new beginning” serving our country.
Military, like other services, is a calling. In the past four years, I have had the opportunity to meet many veterans, active service members, teachers, pastors, detention officers, firefighters and police officers. Each person has their own story of their “call” to serve. Each of these service-focused professions have had incredibly challenging times in the past two years. It has been humbling to hear their perspectives and get to know some of these men and women who serve our county in critical ways.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a group of our Eastern District police officers at the second Coffee With A Cop event in District 5. Coffee With A Cop (waffles have also been included) is a community outreach opportunity organized by our Police and Community Together (PACT) officers. Unlike the public Police-Community Relations Council (PCRC) meetings held monthly at the Eastern District Police Station, these coffee sessions bring our officers right to you for a casual conversation and opportunity to ask questions or share concerns. Getting to know the men and women who protect and serve our families and neighborhoods is an incredible opportunity and strengthens our community.
Service is a calling, and one that found me. Legislation is complex, and the details critical. Weighing competing needs in a budget, while being cognizant that each budget is built with your hard-earned dollar, is something I do not take lightly. Working on constituent matters with families, business owners, employees, scouts, military service members and public service members gives me a deep appreciation of the incredible framework that makes up the district that we call home. It is why I continue to work tirelessly for you and your family. It is an honor to serve you.
The council will soon deliberate the Fiscal Year 2023 budget following the budget proposal presentation by the county executive on April 29. You can follow this and all other bills on the Anne Arundel County Council website at www.aacounty.org/departments/county-council.
For any questions, concerns, or to sign up for the District 5 newsletter, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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