Voter's guide to candidates in Laurel's Nov. 5 election

Each candidate was asked to provide the same information for the voter's guide. Their responses are below:

Michael Leszcz


Seeking ninth term on Council, sixth term at-Large

Age: 67


Education: St. John's University, Queens, N.Y.; Canal Zone College, LaBoca, Panama; Delaware State University, Dover, Del.

Employment: Program Operations Officer, Data Management Division, Internal Revenue Service

Why seeking re-election: I have demonstrated that I serve the Citizens of Laurel well as I have spent the majority of my life working for the betterment of our City. We have a balanced budget and the economy and the employment market in the City is improving. I promise to give my all toward moving Laurel forward in behalf of all City residents.

Adrian Rousseau


Seeking first term as an at-large Council member

Age: 50

Education: Laurel High School; modeling school; licensed in real estate

Employment: Self-employed

Why seeking office: I am running for office to provide the Council with the voice of the Community and give our kids a voice at the table. I heard about the questions asked at the debate and no one had real questions about the youth, schools and Boys and Girls Club in Laurel. Our Seniors are a forgotten Breed and need a voice.

Valerie Nicholas

Seeking second term as Ward 1 Council member

Age: 49

Employment: Side by Side Inc.

Why seeking re-election: I am seeking re-election because I enjoying helping people. It has been indeed a pleasure to work with residence and assist businesses with their concerns. If re-elected I will continue to address the following issues: homelessness, senior services, transportation and public safety. It is an honor to serve in the Laurel community.

H. Edward Ricks

Seeking second term as Ward 1 Council member

Age: 69

Education: Class of 1963, Laurel High School; college courses in management and fire and rescue; courses in court management

Employment: Retired in 2000 as director of the Family Court, Washington, D.C.

Why seeking re-election: I have spent the better part of my personal and professional life serving the public. As a Councilman serving Ward 1 and the City of Laurel for the past two years I have committeed my time and energy to make sure that the promises we made were kept.

John Mathew Smith

Seeking first term as Ward 1 Council member

Age:  55

Education: high school and associate's in sociology

Employment: Event photographer

Why seeking office: I believe we need a fresh voice in Laurel, someone who is not a politician but simply a regular down-to-earth American. Someone who doesn't always claim to have all the answers but who  asks  the right questions. A little humility in the search of new ways of doing old things is a good start.

Donna Crary

Seeking third term as Ward 2 Council member

Age: 54

Education: AA, Erie Community College; BA, English literature, Bowie State University; Juris Doctor, University of Baltimore

Employment: Law Office of Donna L. Crary PA

Why seeking re-election: I'm seeking re-election because there are on-going projects vital to the economy and well being of Laurel's citizens. Redevelopment projects by this Mayor and Council need to be completed in a sustainable manner.  I believe in giving 100 percent  to my City, not finishing the work is not an option. Please give me the opportunity to continue "giving back."

Thomas Matthews

Seeking first term as Ward 2 Council member

Age: 52

Education: Business courses, pursuing a bachelor's degree

Employment: Business manager, assistant director

Why seeking office: As a council member candidate for Ward 2, I have many concerns regarding Laurel, including its residents and its future. My most pressing issues are the safety and well-being of our senior citizens, the future of our youth – notwithstanding the quality of the programs we offer them – and economic development which can make or break a city.

Frederick Smalls

Seeking sixth term as Ward 2 Council member

Age: 63

Education: Associates degree, advertising design

Employment: Director of administration, finance and human resources, Maryland's Secretary of State's office

Why seeking re-election: I want to continue helping make Laurel great and work to achieve the best quality of life for residents. I understand the issues impacting us as neighbors and as individuals. I've walked our neighborhoods and sat in your living rooms. Our city needs leaders who are professional, who understand the issues, and who have a heart for serving the community.

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