Councilman Tom Quirk

Councilman Tom Quirk talks to Catonsville resident Joe Tebo after giving a resolution to the 2011 Catonsville High School football team during a banquet Dec. 15. The team's 12-1season, which ended with a loss in the Class 4A state semifinals, included the first county and regional championship in school history. (Staff photo by Sarah Pastrana / December 15, 2011)

Though he took office a year ago, it feels like yesterday for Councilman Tom Quirk.

With a hectic schedule like he had last month, it's no wonder the first-term Democrat feels time has flown by as he represents District 1, which includes Arbutus, Catonsville and Lansdowne.

In addition to his responsibilities operating his financial planner's business on Frederick Road, he sandwiched in a 7 a.m. breakfast honoring straight-A students at Catonsville High School, a 3 p.m. tour of the future site of the Kaiser Permanente medical facility in Lansdowne and a 6:30 p.m. ceremony honoring Catonsville High's football team at the high school on Bloomsbury Avenue.

It makes for a long day, something to which Quirk has become accustomed.

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And there are no breaks on the weekends as he attends community events around the district.

"County Council is part time. But the reality is that it will take every hour you want to give to it," said Quirk, who is married with two young children. "The time has really flown by, but it has been a really rewarding job."

Each day, Quirk follows three sets of schedules — one each for family, County Council and his business.

He assigns his aides, Pete Kriscumas, Cathy Engers and Margaret Stokes, around the district to learn the needs of the diverse neighborhoods.

"Each of them, literally, comes from the community (they represent)," Quirk said. "That's one of the best things I did, was to hire people who have a true, genuine passion to help their respective areas."

Kriscumas, for example, has roots in the Lansdowne area and that familiarity has helped Quirk, who lives in Catonsville, in a part of the district that had felt overlooked in the past.

Lansdowne resident Betty Cain, who supported Brian Bailey over Quirk in the Democratic primary, said she appreciates Quirk's accessibility and attention to the southern part of the 1st District.

"He's at least recognized the lower half of the community. We sort of were neglected before," Cain said, noting that Quirk and his aides helped at a community clean up in Riverview in September and have volunteered at the twice-monthly free dinners at Lansdowne United Methodist Church.

"He knows what's going on out there in the community," she said

Bailey, a Lansdowne resident, has also noticed how Quirk has reached out to the southern part of the district.

He pointed to the recent closure of a pedestrian tunnel on Hammonds Ferry Road in Lansdowne as an example.

For more than a decade, the tunnel was a source of concern for nearby residents and business owners because of heavy graffiti and illicit activity it attracted to the area.

"I've been impressed with his willingness to reach out to the people and go see their situations and try to help them," Bailey wrote in an email. "Tom and his staff have spent lots of hours … making sure that phone calls are returned, meetings are attended and solutions which he or Baltimore County can offer are promulgated."

Catonsville resident Charles Strouse worked with Quirk in an effort to get more lighting along the 1400 block of Adamsview Road near the fields at Western Hills Park on North Rolling Road in Westview.

"The thing with Tom is, he's right on top of things," said Strouse, who worked on Quirk's campaign. "From what I can see, Tom's meeting with different people, different organizations. He's taking a lot of time."

Maureen Sweeney Smith serves on the board of Catonsville Rails to Trails, a nonprofit that works to make Catonsville more walkable, and said Quirk has given the organization a voice with the county government.