Olszewski eyes run for county executive
Former District Six Del. John Olszewski Jr. is pounding the pavement with his group of volunteers in preparation for his anticipated run for the Democratic nomination for Baltimore County Executive in 2018.
The East Baltimore County native has spent the last year-and-a-half touring the county to get to know the needs of the constituents, and he says that he sees “a hunger for back to basics kind of leadership” in the people of Baltimore County.
Olszewski has not yet filed to run for County Executive, though an of- ficial announcement is anticipated later in the summer.
The son of longtime former County Councilman John Olszewski Sr. (D-7), Olszewski Jr. is no stranger the the political arena.
He served a term on the Maryland Democratic State Central Committee before being appointed to the House of Delegates in June 2006. He went on to win election for two more terms before losing his 2014 bid for State Senate to Johnny Ray Salling (R-6).
He admitted that the loss stung, though he said, “It has rounded me
out and made me a better person.”
Now, he is exploring a run for the county’s highest office.
Olszewski, his volunteers and his supporters have been touting the prospective candidate primarily as an executive focused on family and the future.
As a former educator and member of the school board, an involved policy maker and a parent to a child who will eventually enter the Baltimore County Public School (BCPS) system, Olszewski said that he is heavily focused on educational needs for the county.
“Schools are important, and no one understands [...] schools more than I do,” Olszewski stated. “I think that all kids deserve the best, there’s really nothing better we can invest in.”
When speaking on the issues faced by BCPS — such as the lack of air conditioning and crumbling infrastructure — Olszewski stated that the county “need[s] to be thinking bigger about how to address that.”
Working across the aisle
“I have a strong record of working across the aisle and partnering with legislators of all parties,” said Olszewski. “When you’re in office you need to set aside politics.”
Although Olszewski identifies himself as a “principled Democrat,” he also indicated that party affiliation should not affect his ability to act as an effective executive of Baltimore County.
“Picking up trash and such is not a partisan issue,” Olszewski explained. “We just need to find the places we agree. I think you can disagree on issues without being disagreeable. The best executives will have the backing of the delegation.”
Olszewski said that he not only wants to work with elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, he wants to bring the public’s voice to attention.
“Everyone should have a seat at the table because everyone’s voice matters,” Olszewski said. “People are tired of the status quo and they’re looking for a breath of fresh air to transform how the county engages with residents. I believe I have the capability to do that and to do so in a way that stays true to my family and my values.”
Asked about Kamenetz’s recent executive order preventing county police from asking an individual’s immigration status, Olszewski called it a “distraction.”
”I honestly think it’s a distraction from a lot of the other issues we should be focused on,” he said.
He supports following the law, he said, but “at the same time, there are more pressing issues that we should focus on more.”
“I think people are more concerned about the quality of their schools, whether or not they have a job, whether decisions are being made with them or for them,” he added.
The prospective campaign
Olszewski’s campaign thus far, he claims, has been an almost entirely grassroots effort. According to the prospective candidate, 60 percent of donations made to his campaign have been under $250.
“We, as a county, need to do a better job of empowering our residents,” Olszewski said. “I’m confident i’m the kind of candidate [..] that people will get behind in this race.”
Olszewski said that, despite his strong ties to the east side of Baltimore County, he believes that he can be “an executive for all people.”
“The issues of schools and jobs and quality of life and the issue of being engaged with your government are the same issues people in Woodlawn and Randalstown are worried about,” Olszewski said. “My biggest challenge is going to be getting people to know me. To know that I am an authentic person with plans on how to make a good county great. You really have to admit that you don’t know it all, but that you will build a team that will reflect the desires of our community.”
John Olszewski Jr. is eyeing a run for Baltimore County Executive.