Photo of the candidate courtesy Will Jawando
Why are you running for County Council?
I’m running for County Council At-Large because of something that I call the Montgomery County Promise. It’s what brought my mom and dad here, and it’s why my wife Michele and I stayed here to raise our three daughters. The #MoCoPromise is many things to many people, but I believe it’s about:
- Quality public schools in every zip code, with the wrap-around services to help close the opportunity-and-achievement gap.
- Affordable and accessible childcare and early childhood education, as well, to help our working families and help prevent the achievement from widening before school starts.
- Safe, welcoming and diverse neighborhoods with mixed-use, mixed-income housing built near transit, allowing for fair and affordable housing so both new families and our aging neighbors can live here.
- A vibrant economy that supports good-paying jobs while growing our base of small- and mid-sized businesses as well as encouraging major employers.
- Transit, energy and development policies that protect and nurture our green spaces while keeping our air and water clean even as we grow responsibly.
The reality is that the promise of Montgomery County hasn’t been available to everybody. And today it’s slipping away from even more people. I believe we have to keep the promise to all our neighbors, and that’s why I’m running for County Council.
What are your qualifications for the position?
I grew up right here in Silver Spring. I grew into a career in public service early, serving as an Americorps member with the Montgomery County Police and later founding Catholic University of America’s first-ever NAACP campus chapter—overcoming CUA’s initial denial of the chapter. From there, I worked for Nancy Pelosi, then U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, before joining President Obama in the White House and then as senior advisor inside the U.S. Department of Education. Locally, I serve on the African-American Student Achievement Gap, and served on the County Commission on Juvenile Justice. Last year, I launched Summer R.I.S.E., which put more than 400 MCPS high schoolers in career-enrichment opportunities.
Are you using public financing, yes or no?
If yes, have you qualified for matching funds?
What specific policies and/or programs would you propose to expand the county’s tax base?
In addition to marketing the great assets of our county to attract large employers, we must focus new energy on developing our small- and mid-sized businesses. We can put more resources into the Business Navigator’s Office, which helps entrepreneurs with the regulatory and paperwork hurdles of starting an enterprise. We can offer more small- and mid-sized business loans. We should also create more incubators for high demand fields like we have done with cybersecurity and biotech.
We also have to look at making the MCPS career and technical track, and Montgomery College’s career and technical certification programs, a more attractive and viable option for our students. We have many unfilled jobs in the county that need certification training or two-year degrees, and which pay a solid, living wage. Yet a quarter of our MCPS graduates do not go on to either work or college, I believe in part because career and vocational training is not seen a viable option for them.
I’m an average voter, interested in doing my civic duty but not an avid follower of county politics. Convince me that I should vote for you over all the other candidates.
I have the right background of policy experience and public service both locally and nationally. That experience and my campaign agenda have earned our campaign more endorsements than any other candidate. I’ve been endorsed by the Sierra Club, Local SEIU 500, MCEA (our teachers’ union), UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO (our county employees’ union), CASA in Action, Progressive Maryland, Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA), the Fraternal Order of the Police Lodge 35, as well as both County Executive Ike Leggett and County Council Member Nancy Navarro.
Will Jawando was born and raised in Silver Spring, where he now lives with his wife and young daughters. He grew up in a working, middle-class family—his father a Nigerian immigrant and his mother born in Kansas—who taught him the values of hard work and responsibility. This work ethic helped Jawando earn a college scholarship to attend Catholic University of America, where he established the university’s first NAACP chapter and earned his law degree.
As a lawyer, Jawando fought for progress on Capitol Hill, working for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, and then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama.
He continued his public service in the Obama administration, where he served as an advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and as an associate director of the Office of Public Engagement, helping to lead the administration’s efforts to strengthen local communities by working with national, state and local advocacy groups.
Following his service in the Obama administration, Will worked for two years at Discovery Communications developing public-private partnerships to promote STEM education. He established Our Voices Matter, a non-profit that seeks to increase civic engagement, voter registration and leadership among underrepresented communities. He currently serves on the African-American Student Achievement Action Group, and previously served on the County Commission on Juvenile Justice.