Spokesman Conveys County's Values

Spokesman Conveys County's Values

Name: Patrick Lacefield

Employment: Spokesman for Montgomery County Council.

Education: Public schools in Indiana, Missouri and Kentucky. B.A. in American History from the University of Missouri.

Why do you do this job? How did you get started?

My job is to project to the public the ideas, policies and values of the folks we elect to our County Council — through the Web, speeches, the media, cable television, and public meetings. I'm a lucky guy — I have nine bosses. I guess one is more than enough for most people, but, somehow, it all works. It's a good bunch of folks.

I come to communications through politics. I'm a native Southerner from Arkansas and proud of it — first in my family to graduate from college. My great-great-grandfather was in the Arkansas State Legislature during independence, 1861-65. My first political campaign was for Hubert Humphrey's presidential bid in 1968, when I was 14, and what motivated me in my high-school and college years were issues such as civil rights, a square deal for working men and women, and stopping the war in Vietnam.

Through work as a writer, as coordinator of refugee work in war-torn El Salvador, as press secretary and speechwriter for Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and as communications coordinator for Teamsters Union organizing campaigns, I've always tried to move the America I love so dearly in a more progressive direction and to "save the world" in whatever small way I can.

Most satisfying part of job?

I would say it's working closely with Council members and county residents to try and maintain the quality of life that drew me here 13 years ago from New York City and remains a magnet for many. I'm talking about issues such as providing resources for our quality school system, making sure we get the most "bang for the buck" for the taxes we pay, and looking out for the public interest by passing living-wage and smoke-free-restaurant laws. I'm also proud that we are protecting our Agricultural Reserve and continuing to put the kibosh on the so-called "Techway" that would bulldoze our neighborhoods and provide next-to-no traffic congestion relief.

Most frustrating part of job?

Well, the most frustrating part of politics in general is that the interests who already have the wealth and power too often call the tune and the public interest be damned. Look at Capitol Hill — the polluters are writing the environmental laws, and the rich are getting tax breaks paid for by the middle class. Look at Annapolis — the gambling interests who want slots have bought legislators right and left, including some of our own.

Even the best efforts of elected officials on all levels often can't match the power of the interests. I guess that's why I'm a democratic socialist. Too few people have too much wealth and power, despite the fact things are supposed to be decided by one-person, one-vote — not one-dollar, one-vote. That's gotta change.

Lives in: Potomac.

Years here: Just moved in November, from Aspen Hill. It's like the old saying goes, "I wasn't born here, but I got here as soon as I could." We love our libraries, being walking distance from the three great public schools our son will eventually attend, and the parks, especially Cabin John Regional and Hadley Park.

Community ties/activities: I'm a member of the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County Historical Society, a leader in Friends of the Library, and a member of the Montgomery County Civil War Roundtable. I'm a Quaker and a member of Bethesda Friends Meeting. Our family belongs to Adat Shalom Synagogue in Bethesda.

Favorite restaurants: Persimmon on Wisconsin Avenue and Cesco in Bethesda for fine dining. Hamburger Hamlet off Old Georgetown and Democracy for the carnivore in me. The Urban Barbeque off Twinbrook Parkway in Rockville is heaven, though they need to add my favorite fried okra to the menu to match their great collard greens.

Favorite activities: Seeing the world anew through the eyes of my 3-year-old Jesse. I'm a late-blooming father, having just turned 50, and it's changed my life — for the better.

Heroes: Robert E. Lee, Dr. Martin Luther King, and my mentor Michael Harrington — whose book "The Other America" sparked the War on Poverty.

Favorite people in the community: Individuals who believe in something, stand up for the little guy, and can get things done. Leaving aside my current employers, I'm talking about folks such as my fellow Southerner Ike Leggett, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, and Progressive Maryland leader Tom Hucker.

A book, movie, vacation or other experience you enjoyed: Bookwise, I'm a huge Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway fan, can't put down Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawsky detective novels, and cherish Pablo Neruda's poems. Still hard to beat "Casablanca" as my favorite film after all these years, and the TV series "24" keeps me on the edge of my seat year in and year out. I love Rehoboth Beach in the summer, Quebec anytime, and Paris whenever I can get there.

Hobbies: I'm a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees and am looking for another World Series title this year. When I get the time, I am a Civil War re-enactor for the First Virginia Infantry, CSA, and do "living histories" in blue and gray, complete with period songs, for libraries, community centers, and classes around the D.C. metro area. When I'm not singin' and pickin' my guitar in the 1860s, I enjoy doing country and folk music in the here and now.

— Jenny Gross

Send profile nominations to Joy Allen, assistant editor, by calling 703-917-6432, via e-mail at almanac@connectionnewspapers.com or via fax at 703-917-0991.