Commentary: Engagement

Improved citizen engagement with the Columbia Association Board was one of my goals as a candidate for CA Board, “so that decisions by the Board reflect the best minds of our well-educated populace.” This should be a goal that all CA Board members can support. The fact that just 4.8% of individuals 18 and over voted in the three villages with contested elections illustrates how much work we have to do to improve participation.  As a public service, following are suggestions Columbians made on facebook and in blogs to improve engagement and increase voter participation. Continue reading Commentary: Engagement


Commentary: I Love This Park

I love the Inner Arbor plan for Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods for so many reasons.

The Inner Arbor Trust recently shared a slideshow that details how the Park’s design has evolved from the earlier plan developed by Cy Paumier and describes the features the park is to include. You can see that slide show at the link provided above. I never understood the Paumier plan as it imposed a rigid, essentially circular walkway on a forest that by nature is irregular and unstructured. The plan disrespected the woods, instead making the walkway and a fountain the centerpiece of the park and linking it to the Mall. Continue reading Commentary: I Love This Park

Commentary: Local Control

How often do we complain about stuff happening around us that is out of our control? I don’t hold that to be true of local government. Our leaders are our neighbors. In county government, Ken Ulman, Mary Kay Sigaty, Calvin Ball, and Jen Terrasa are all Columbia residents. In the course of testifying at public hearings on behalf of nonprofit organizations I’ve worked with and attending various social events, I’ve met these politicians and know them to be honorable people concerned about our community. They will be the first to admit that they are not expert in all things and therefore depend on citizens like you and me to educate them about the issues and their likely impact on the community. Continue reading Commentary: Local Control


Let me say from the outset – I am not a career politician. The last time I ran for elected office was for Student Government President in high school. While I lost that election, I am running for the Columbia Association Board from Hickory Ridge Village for much the same reason as that idealistic teenager. Our elected town officials should not be the same people that get elected over and over again just because they are the only ones who stand for election. Our leaders should be people who are engaged with the community, and are willing to bring that engagement into the decisions made by the CA Board.

Check out my platform. That is one of the commitments I make – to increase the opportunities for citizen engagement with the Columbia Association Board so that decisions we make reflect the best minds of our well-educated populace. I hope to begin that process by engaging the community via social media. Whether you support me or not, like my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter, so you can be involved in the conversation.

The other items in my platform are issues that are dear to my heart: effective planning; expanding our participation with nature, art, and culture; increasing the ability of the Columbia Association to meet the needs of our community by partnering with nonprofit organizations.

I sure don’t have all the answers, but I’m confident that an engaged citizenry will assure that we make the best decisions. My life’s work in nonprofit organizations has been all about collaborating with others in service to the greater good. Please join me to sustain and grow our city and make it the best that it can be. Let me hear how I can help. And please vote for me on April 26th.

Harry Schwarz