Michael Leszcz still remembers when he first decided to run for the Laurel City Council in the early 1990s.
According to Leszcz, he was approached by soon-to-be Mayor Frank Casula and current Mayor Craig Moe about running for a seat in Ward 1 after spending 17 years on the city's Planning Commission.
Now, another 17 years later, Leszcz is seeking his 18th and 19th consecutive years on the council as he faces off against challenger Adrian Rousseau for the at-large seat in the Nov. 5 election.
"I'm a firm believer you need to be involved in your community and help your community progress. And I still feel that way," Leszcz said.
Leszcz, who turned 67 this week, said he has lived on Prince George Street in Laurel since 1969, when he married his wife, Mary Eileen. Professionally, he has worked for the Internal Revenue Service since 1974 and has spent the last 35 years of his employment in the Statistics and Research Department.
Leszcz said he is a "steady hand" on the council and someone who sees the big picture.
"There are 26,000 people in the city of Laurel. You have to take a balanced approach," Leszcz said. "You have to have this balanced perspective. You can't be narrow focused. You have to look at the whole operation.
"My area of interest is everything, because I think that's how you have to be as a council person," Leszcz said. "I understand how the mechanisms of the city government work."
Among the issues Leszcz said he is most eager to continue is facilitating the city's boon in development. In addition to the redevelopment of Laurel Mall as Town Centre at Laurel, Leszcz pointed to the current administration's efforts in getting the former police headquarters building on C Street redeveloped.
Leszcz said he sees development as a way to bring revenue to the city, which means a lower tax rate for citizens.
"Those are the things that help increase tax revenues in the city and, in turn, allow us to work toward lowering the tax rate," Leszcz said.
Leszcz said he is supporting his fellow incumbents on the council because he is pleased with the progress made with the current administration.
"My colleagues have done a good job. Each of us have our strengths, we represent the community as a council," Leszcz said. "We are operating in the black. Some cities have real difficulty operating with a balanced budget, but we are doing pretty well here in the city of Laurel."
Fred Frederick, who owns Fred Frederick Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge Ram in Laurel, but lives outside the city limits, said he doesn't always agree with Leszcz and the city, but Leszcz's integrity is unquestionable.
"I never question his love for the city and the people in it, and his dedication to the people in the community," Frederick said. "We, like any other community, need good leadership. I can't vote in the city, but I would never have any reservation about voting for him to represent the city."
This is part of a series of profiles on candidates in this year's City Council elections.