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Jessica Fitzwater

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Jessica Fitzwater
Frederick County Councilmember, District 4
In office
December 1, 2014 – December 1, 2018
Preceded byOffice created
Personal details
BornSmithsburg, Maryland, U.S.[1]
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materSt. Mary's College of Maryland
Hood College [1]

Jessica Fitzwater (born 1983) is an American politician, education activist, and music instructor.[2] A member of the Democratic Party, in 2014 she became one of the inaugural members of the council of Frederick County, Maryland, representing District 4.[1][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Fitzwater was born in Smithsburg, Maryland to a musician father who managed a non-profit that brought folk music to rural Maryland and a mother spent her career as a special educator.[4] She attended St. Mary's College of Maryland where she earned a B.A. in music and completed graduate studies at Hood College, earning an M.S. in educational leadership in 2005.[1] From 2005, she performed as a violinist with the Frederick Symphony Orchestra and taught music at Oakdale Elementary School. She became involved in politics as an extension of her life as a public servant.[4] Once teaching, her first political role was as a union delegate to the Maryland State Education Associations’s State Representative Assembly.[4]

Career in Politics[edit]

Fitzwater became politically active because local politics made her "realize that the decisions were being made that negatively affected our schools came from an overarching sentiment that wasn’t just anti-public education, but that was really isolating large portions of our population."[4]

Involved in the National Education Association (NEA) since starting her teaching career, Fitzwater is vice chair of the organization's arts caucus.[4] She was named Political Activist of the Year by the NEA, following a vote by its membership.[5] The four finalists were chosen based on the amount and quality of political activism.[4][6]

Fitzwater was a member of the Emerge Maryland Class of 2013, which recruits and trains Democratic women to run for elected office.[7] As of 2014, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Frederick Teacher's Association and the Board of Directors for the Frederick County Arts Council.[4]

Campaign for Frederick County Council[edit]

In 2013, Fitzwater announced her candidacy for the first elected council of Frederick County as a representative of the District.[8] District 4 includes the eastern and southern areas of downtown Frederick, Worman's Mill, Dearbought, Mt. Pleasant, most of Lake Linganore, Spring Ridge, Crestwood, and most of Ballenger Creek.[8]

Full funding of public education topped Fitzwater's platform. She highlighted flat funding for Frederick County schools over the last six years and the resulting cuts in programs and departure of highly qualified teachers.[5] She also advocated for responsible growth and committed to maintain and improve the quality of life.[8] She supported fellow Democrat Jan H. Gardner who was running for the first elected County Executive.[8] She suggested that the county should look into having community roundtable discussions on issues and use social media tools to facilitate input from voters.[8] Much of her campaigning consisted of knocking on voter's doors.[9]

Fitzwater ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination.[10] In the general election, Fitzwater ran against Republican candidate Bob Lawrence, a former postal worker.[11][12] Fitzwater won 54% of the vote[11] and was elected the first councilmember from District 4.[13]

Following her victory, Fitzwater said open government, attracting jobs, managing growth and improving education are goals she wants to accomplish over the next fours years [14]

When she was sworn on to the council on December 1, 2014, she requested to take the oath of office on a non-religious document.[15] Fitzwater, who is Jewish, said her allegiance was to the county charter or the Constitution, and was the only member of the council to make such a request.[15]

Positions[edit]

Along with Councilmember M.C. Keegan-Ayer, Fitzwater introduced a bill to repeal an ordinance designating English as the county's official language.[16] The bill to repeal the ordinance passed.[17]

Fitzwater encourages practical politics among her fellow teachers by finding "just one small type of advocacy that fits into your life" such as emailing legislators or attending a meeting.[4]

She has been a staunch advocate for the DREAM Act, a proposed federal legislature to allow conditional residency to qualifying undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before age 16, and, upon meeting further qualifications, permanent residency.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Fitzwater married Gerald Bigelow III, an admissions manager, in 2012.[18] In addition to playing with the Frederick Symphony Orchestra, Fitzwater also performs in a modern dance troupe, the Equinox Dance Company.[4][19] She connects her public performance experience with diminishing her fear of taking a political stand.[19]

Electoral history[edit]

2014[edit]

2014 Democratic Party Primary Election, Frederick County Council, District 4[10]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jessica Fitzwater 2,272 100
2014 General Election, Frederick County Council, District 4[11]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jessica Fitzwater 7,698 54
Republican Robert Bob Lawrence 6,446 46
Write-in 6 0

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "JESSICA E. FITZWATER, Member, County Council (Democrat)". Frederick News Post. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  2. "County Council District 4 candidate Jessica Fitzwater". Frederick News Post. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  3. "County Council District 4 candidate Jessica Fitzwater". Frederick News Post. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 "NEA Political Activist of the Year finalist: Maryland's Jessica Fitzwater". educationvotes.org. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Educators select Maryland music teacher as Political Activist of the Year". educationvotes.org. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  6. "Fitzwater named NEA political activist of the year". Herald Mail Media. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  7. "JESSICA FITZWATER". Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 "Fitzwater to Run For County Council". Frederick Politics Political News and Commentary. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  9. "Council candidates work to win votes door to door". Frederick News Post. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Election Summary Report, Gubernatorial Primary Election, Frederick County, Maryland, Tuesday, June 24, 2014, Summary For Jurisdiction Wide, All Counters, All Races, Official Final Results". Frederick County Board of Elections. July 8, 2014.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 "Election Summary Report, Gubernatorial General Election, Frederick County, Maryland, November 4, 2014, Summary For Jurisdiction Wide, All Counters, All Races, Official Results". Frederick County Board of Elections. November 18, 2014.
  12. "Introducing Mr. Lawrence". Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  13. "Official 2014 Gubernatorial General Election results for Frederick County". Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  14. "Jessica Fitzwater Lays Out Goals For Next Four Years". WFMD. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Political Notes: Fitzwater asks to take official oath on nonreligious document". Frederick News Post. Retrieved April 14, 2015.
  16. Loos, Kelly. "Bill introduced to repeal Frederick County's English-only ordinance". The Frederick News-Post. June 16, 2015.
  17. Loos, Kelsi. "Frederick County's English-only ordinance repealed". The Frederick News-Post. August 18, 2015.
  18. "Bigelow-Fitzwater to wed". Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  19. 19.0 19.1 "MUSIC TEACHER MIGHT EMERGE ONTO POLITICAL STAGE". Retrieved April 17, 2015.

External links[edit]


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