Jean­nine James an­nounces may­oral can­di­dacy in La Plata

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­

Town of La Plata res­i­dent Jean­nine James an­nounced her may­oral cam­paign last week for the May 2017 elec­tion, and she is look­ing to gain support early.

James an­nounced her can­di­dacy at a La Plata Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion mem­ber­ship meet­ing. The Town of La Plata’s cur­rent mayor, Roy G. Hale, has served since 2008: one of the long­est terms in La Plata’s his­tory. But ac­cord­ing to the busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion, James’ po­lit­i­cal and cam­paign ex­pe­ri­ence with other po­lit­i­cal fig­ures demon­strate what it takes to lead the busi­ness own­ers and residents of the town.

“I love this town and I want to make it a place you visit and not just some place that you drive though,” James said. “I have a de­gree in po­lit­i­cal science and served on var­i­ous com­mit­tees, so I said it’s time to start ris­ing to the top. I feel that with my ex­pe­ri­ence and lead­er­ship skills, I can make a dif­fer­ence in La Plata. I know how im­por­tant it is to have the lo­cal gov­ern­ment work closely with the small busi­ness com­mu­nity, and that’s what I re­ally wanted to fo­cus on.”

The La Plata Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers ex­pressed their ex­cite­ment to work with some­one who has in­ter­ests aligned with those of town residents and busi­ness own­ers. They de­scribe James as the kind of leader who will walk La Plata to get a “boots-on-the-ground” per­spec­tive and a feel for the real is­sues.

“Her en­ergy wel­comes

change and I think she has a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on what we cur­rently have go­ing on in the com­mu­nity,” said Keith Grasso, pres­i­dent of the La Plata Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion. “She’s taken an in­ter­est in the growth of the town and I think her com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and peo­ple skills make her a good can­di­date. We know she will take a look at the cur­rent is­sues that the busi­ness com­mu­nity faces such as the sign code, the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of our down­town area, things like work­ing with [the] State High­way [Ad­min­is­tra­tion] to slow traf­fic through our main street and re­ally turn it into a main street.”

The busi­ness as­so­cia- tion ex­pressed the need for the town lead­er­ship to change and evolve with the times. They would like a can­di­date who would be proac­tive in bring­ing peo­ple into the town, and be­lieve James would serve well in the po­si­tion.

“One of the big­gest things is the lead­er­ship, com­mu­nity at-large and the busi­ness com­mu­nity all be­ing on the same page,” James said. “We all have the same goals right now and I think ev­ery­body be­ing on the same page with the same vi­sion would be a great start.”

James has been a res- ident of La Plata for the past 15 years and lives with her hus­band, Tom, and their three chil­dren. Cur­rently she is an ad­junct com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­fes­sor at Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land and a sub­sti­tute teacher. She said her ex­per­tise in com­mu­ni­ca­tions, bud­gets, ac­count­abil­ity and busi­ness own­er­ship sets her apart from cur­rently-seated coun­cil mem­bers.

“She is look­ing at things with fresh eyes and sit­ting on the coun­cil for so long, some­times means you don’t don’t have the same per­spec­tive that other folks have,” Grasso said.

James wants to help La Plata grow and make it a walk­a­ble com­mu­nity. She said she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty and has has al­ready proved that her busi­ness savvy and po­lit­i­cal knowl­edge com­bined will ben­e­fit busi­ness own­ers and lo­cal residents.

“One of the things that I have been work­ing on with the La Plata Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion is get­ting a sign map that reads ‘ Welcome to La Plata,’ and it would have a map of all of the busi­nesses and ameni­ties in down­town La Plata,” James said. “We’ve got the ap­proval, so that should be erected in the next cou­ple of months. What that does is foster the vi­sion of mak­ing it a walk­a­ble com­mu­nity and help small busi­nesses grow and pros­per here in La Plata.”

James em­pha­sized her will­ing­ness to lis­ten to residents and busi­ness own­ers. She also said she ad­mires how Bran­don Paulin, mayor of the Town of In­dian Head, and Daniel W. Bur­ris, mayor of Leonard­town, have been shak­ing up the sta­tus quo in their towns. She plans to con­nect with them to dis­cuss how each town can flour­ish to­gether.

“I want to de­liver a pos­i­tive mes­sage of unity dur­ing this cam­paign,” James said. “I be­lieve that a gov­ern­ment should be a ser­vice for the peo­ple and this should be ac­com­plished in an open, hon­est, trans­par­ent and above-board man­ner. By the time that I’m done, I want to put La Plata on the map for the things that we have to of­fer, such as eat­ing at our lo­cal restau­rants and shop­ping at our lo­cal busi­nesses. It’s not go­ing to be easy and it’s not a job that should be taken lightly.”


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