Reg Avery almost decided not to run for the Howard County Council this election cycle.
"My intent was not to run," he said last week. "It's a hassle, a lot of time and a lot of effort."
But after some more thought, Avery decided it was worth the hassle, time and effort to represent District 2 on the County Council.
"I decided to run because I really have the belief that we need to represent our community," he said. "As a resident, I really feel that I want representation. I don't want my community to go downhill, I want it to go uphill. I made an investment here, and I love this community."
Avery, a resident of Oakland Mills, is one of two Republicans challenging current County Council member Calvin Ball, a Democrat, who is running for a third term. Ellicott City resident Ralph Colavita has also filed for the seat. He is also the only candidate to file for the Oakland Mills representative to the Columbia Association Board of Directors, and will assume the post May 1.
Avery cited the county's purchase of the Verona apartment complex, near the Oakland Mills Village Center, as one development that pushed him to run. The purchase has been a divisive issue in the community, with many residents expressing anger that the county didn't consult them before finalizing the deal.
"That was one of the things where I said, 'Now wait a minute,' " Avery, who serves as vice chair on the Oakland Mills Village Board, said of the Verona apartments purchase. "No one talked to us, no one said anything to us, and all of a sudden, here we go, we're here.
"I believe, and maybe it's old-fashioned, but I sincerely believe that it's my job, if I'm elected, to represent the residents in this community," he added. "Not to represent certain entities or certain groups, but the whole community, and that's what I'm fighting for."
Avery, who turns 60 on March 15, is a military veteran who has also worked in intelligence and federal law enforcement. Born in Japan, his family moved to Hawaii when he was 5 years old, and he became an American citizen at 16.
"Everything I've done since I've become an American citizen is about serving my country," he said.
Avery said, in addition to encouraging community discussion of issues, he also wanted to "bring in more business opportunity" to the district.
"I want to make our community something that you come home to every day and say, 'You know what, I'm happy to be here,' " he said. "That's what I'm looking for."
While he acknowledged that running as a Republican in a heavily Democratic district would be a challenge, Avery said he hoped District 2 constituents would be open-minded.
A lot of people, he said, "think Republicans have three heads and walk around eating babies. I don't do that. I'm me. I will always be me."