Ol­szewski eyes run for county ex­ec­u­tive

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - By MIA MCCASLIN mm­c­caslin@ches­pub.com

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.

On schools

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.”

On im­mi­gra­tion

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.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF DAVID JANISZEWSKI

John Ol­szewski Jr. is eye­ing a run for Bal­ti­more County Ex­ec­u­tive.

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