Jack A. “Jay” Gullo Jr. was presented with the Maryland Municipal League’s Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2020 virtual MML summer conference for his service in municipal government.
The Lifetime Achievement Award honors a current or former elected official who has demonstrated excellent leadership and service to Maryland municipal governments and to MML, according to an MML news release. The league represents 157 Maryland cities and towns and two special taxing districts.
“Jay Gullo is an indispensable legal resource and public servant to the citizens and elected officials in Maryland,” said Scott Hancock, executive director of MML. “His passion and leadership have produced unsurpassed improvements of the municipalities he has advised during his career.”
Gullo is the first from Carroll County to have earned the honor.
At one time the youngest mayor in the country, Gullo’s public service career began when he served as mayor in his hometown of New Windsor for eight years. According to MML, New Windsor experienced immense economic growth and civic engagement of citizens under Gullo’s leadership.
In addition to serving as town mayor, Gullo dedicated 27 years to the MML in various positions such as president (1999-2000), legislative committee chairman, vice chairman, parliamentarian, and bylaws committee chairman.
Gullo says he was in shock when he was presented with the award and was asked to prepare a speech.
“The happiest thing, the proudest thing is this award, which hasn’t even sunk in because I’m only 51, and they gave me a lifetime achievement award at 51. Normally people are really old when you get this,” Gullo said. “I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
Gullo said his passion for MML began when he became New Windsor’s mayor in 1994.
“Nothing prepares you for being mayor at 23 and you don’t have a tremendous amount of life experience. So I went to MML, which was like the normal thing everybody did,” said Gullo. “It’s like family. Once you get involved and you get to know the people and know the organizations, you can’t say no, I mean it’s just like when your brother comes to you and says, hey, I need you to help me move. It’s like you can’t say no.”
Today, Gullo is a practicing municipal attorney. He represents towns such as Taneytown, Poolesville, and Rising Sun. He also continues to serve the community by teaching classes on government ethics to Maryland’s elected officials through the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy.
“I think I found my niche now. I mean I love solving problems and helping people, and I can do it anywhere, not just where I live. My public life was great, but I like my quasi-public life a lot better,” he said.
Although the award was presented virtually, Gullo said he was able to view a presentation where people expressed their thoughts on him as a person. Gullo related it to what one would see during the Oscars.
“I had never seen it until I was actually given that award and I’m like, wow, people said such wonderful things about me, and it brings tears to your eyes to hear that you’re appreciated like that,” said Gullo. “I’ve never had such an honor and probably never will again.”