Councilman will not run for re-election
Wednesday, 06 November 2013 13:40

County Councilman John Olszewski Sr. announced  that he will not seek re-election in 2014. file photo

After four terms, Olszewski will not seek office in 2014

by Ben Boehl

After serving four terms as a member of the Baltimore County Council, Councilman John Olszewski, Sr. announced Saturday that he will not seek re-election in 2014.
    He made his announcement at a closed-door campaign event and later confirmed to The Eagle that this term will be his last.
    “I’m not seeking a fifth term on the council,” Olszewski said. “It gives me an opportunity to spend time with my family and explore any options in the future.”
    Olszewski said he would focus his efforts on campaigning for his son, Del. John Olszew-ski, Jr., who is running for state Senate, and for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is seeking to become the next governor of Maryland. Olszewski was recently named as one of three Baltimore County co-chairs for the Brown campaign.
    There has been speculation that Olszewski’s prominent role in the Brown campaign might lead to a state government post, or that the councilman might take a job in the county’s executive branch.
    Olszewski said despite the rumors, he has had no talks with County Executive Kevin Kamenetz or anyone in county government about a county appointment.
    When asked if he would take an appointive state office if Brown were elected governor, Olszewski answered that he has not thought about it, adding that he is working on the campaign to help get Brown elected and not to audition for a cabinet role.
    “I’m the kind of person that supports people that I believe in. I’m not concerned if something comes of it or not,” Olszewski said.
    Olszewski was elected to the County Council in 1998 after he defeated incumbent Lou DePazzo in the Democratic primary.
    Del. Mike Weir, Jr., who attended the Olszewski announcement on Saturday said the councilman has done a lot for the community and credited that to the fact that Olszewski was able to serve multiple terms.
    “We had a lot of councilmen who served for one term,” Weir explained. “He was the first councilman [in a long time] to give us a consistent voice in our district.”
    After John O’Rourke ended his three-term tenure on the council to run for county executive in 1986, the 7th District was represented by three consecutive one-term councilmen — Dale Volz, Don Mason and DePazzo — before Olszewski was elected in 1998.
    Olszewski said that with each term he was able to develop more relationships with other public officials.
    “The longer you’ve been around, the more you can get for your community from governors, senators and congressmen.”
    After flirting with a bid for county executive in 2010, Olszewski supported then-councilman Kamenetz in the Democratic primary.
    The two had served together on the council for 12 years. Kamenetz praised his longtime colleague.
    “I wish Councilman Olszewski well in all of his future endeavors.  He has been an outstanding councilman and a good friend for many years.  While he can be proud of his many accomplishments, I know that none are more dear to his heart than the completion of the new $100 million Dundalk High and Sollers Point Technical High School,” Kamenetz said in a statement.
  “Johnny was key to getting that project off the ground and making sure that when it was completed that both schools would rival any in the nation.  His hard work will be evident in the Dundalk community for years to come.”
    Olszewski said he is proud of his 15 years that included the building of the new Dundalk and Sollers high schools, new fields and concession stands at the three high schools, the St. Helena dog park, the renovations at Chesterwood Park, county road repairs and the new housing development at Yorkway.
    “We used to have 3,500 police calls a year at the old Yorkway Apartments,” Olszewski noted.
    He credited his staff for their assistance.
    “Our constituent service was second to none. We had focused and tried to solve many issues,” Ol-szewski added.
     “We tried to solve all of them. Some were solved and others weren’t.”
    As Olszewski looks forward to the next phase of his career, he said he has fond memories of his time as councilman.
    “I’m going to miss the Edgemere Senior breakfast. I’m going to miss being in the parade. I’m going to miss just being with the people,” Olszew-ski said.
    “I’ve tried to give back and I’ve enjoyed finding a way to help people.”
    Olszewski becomes the third Dundalk-area politician to announce he will not seek reelection in 2014.
    Del. Joseph “Sonny’ Minnick announced in September that he is not running again in 2014. Minnick has been a member of the House since 1994.
    And the political dominos began to fall when state Sen. Norman Stone announced he will not seek another term in 2014 after serving in Annapolis for over 50 years.
    “He has been a good councilman and he has done a lot for the people of Dundalk,” Stone said of Olszewski.
    Republican Todd Crandell and Democrat Joe DiCara were the only two candidates to file before Olszewski made his announcement.
    Both officially filed last week, but Crandell publicly announced he was seeking the council seat in July.
    Former state delegate Jake Mohorovic has been mentioned as another possible candidate on the Democratic side, but he told The Eagle on Monday that he is “trending away from a council race.”
    On Monday, Democrat C.O. “Bud” Staigerwald, Jr., announced that he will run for the now-open council seat. Staigerwald said his decision to announce was primarily a reaction to Baltimore County’s decision on the future of the North Point Government Center and was not based on Olszewski’s announcement.
    Staigerwald is the husband of Debbie Staigerwald, who is a member of Dundalk United and the director of the Sky is the Limit theatre program. She has been a prominent voice in the debate over the fate of the Government Center.
    “We need representation to oversee the North Point Government Center [sale]. It may not be a done deal, and our people need to be represented in the process,” Bud Staigerwald said.