Columbia Association Board of Directors member Tom Coale announced June 18 he will resign his position to seek a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates in 2014, representing the newly formed District 9B. Coale, a popular blogger in Howard County, announced his decision at a fundraiser in Ellicott City.
Coale, CA's representative from the village of Dorsey's Search, will run on the Democratic ticket in the district, which encompasses Ellicott City and portions of Elkridge and Columbia.
"I've always said I would only run for office If I saw the need for change," Coale said. "With a new seat there is an opportunity for Ellicott City to have representation they haven't had before. Having Ellicott City advocated for on the state level has been missed."
Coale is an associate attorney at the Baltimore-based law firm Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, LLC, and also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Community Foundation of Howard County.
The 31-year-old said he hopes to fix the disconnect between the state government and its constituents by "giving the government back to the people."
County Council member Courtney Watson, who represents Ellicott City and Elkridge, applauded Coale's diligence on community issues.
"Tom studies the issues facing the community, is well informed and engaged in creating solutions," Watson said.
Part of Coale's campaign strategy is to continue his popular blog, HoCoRising.com. Although the tone of some of the posts might change — Coale said he will refrain from commenting on political races — he hopes to continue his transparency and dialogue with the community.
"I am always accessible and allow everyone's view to be heard, but I'm not someone who is not going to be swayed by the wind," Coale said. "I do what I think is right and I want people to understand where I am coming from."
Recently on his blog, Coale wrote that resigning from the CA Board, to which he was recently re-elected to a two-year term in April, was "a very difficult decision," and one that "hurts deeply" to accept.
"When running a campaign, that has to be a principal focus. If I'm on the CA Board, I want to give 100 percent of my time and attention to CA," he said.
Reflecting on his two years on the board, Coale said he was particularly proud of three initiatives: the expansion of the Dorsey's Search meeting room, the approval of funding for the pathway "loop" around Lake Kittamaqundi and the passage of the Inner Arbor Plan, which proposes to build an arts district in Symphony Woods Park.
Coale, who was the staunchest proponent of the Inner Arbor Plan, said he is upset he won't see it through, but that he has confidence in the direction it is going.
"Getting that passed was such a big step for Columbia," Coale said. "What I do plan to continue to do is watch the process, continue to participate and make sure we don't lose that progress. The CA Board can be assured they will hear from me in the future."
According to Coale, the Dorsey's Search Village Board voted Tom O'Connor as his replacement on the board effective July 1.