Name: Jazmin Di Cola
Political party: Democrat
Where you live: Frederick
Current occupation and employers (may also list up to two previous jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Small-business owner; construction services, business consulting, restaurant industry
Political experience (public offices held and when; as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years; do not include political party positions): This is my first time running for office.
1 – Why are you running for the County Council? (75 words max)
Our District 3 families deserve a representative who truly knows their lives and will always advocate for the investments and services they need to succeed. District 3 raised me and I’m proud to raise my own three children here. We’ve built a beautiful life here, but reaching that same success feels impossible for so many other families. I’ve lived those fears and struggles and am running to be a voice for our wonderful neighborhoods.
2 – What is the most important issue in this race? How specifically would you address it? (100 words max)
Ensuring opportunity and security for our hard-working families is the top priority. When my sisters and I fled El Salvador as children, we were blessed to find a home in Frederick County. I will admit that it was difficult, but we graduated from FCPS and college, worked hard to open businesses, and started our own families. Nowadays, families work hard, but can’t afford a home. Their rights are threatened, but they fear calling the sheriff for help. They struggle, but feel forgotten by our county government. I will bring our residents back to the table and always be their champion.
3 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this position? (100 words max)
My whole life is woven into the fabric of Frederick County. My children attend FCPS and their grandparents live in the neighborhoods. My businesses and the small businesses I advise are here. My church is here. My heart is here. That’s why I’ve been an activist standing up to racial profiling and a community organizer who listens to our residents and helps them bring their true voices to the county government. The challenges facing our community are not theoretical to me and I don’t need to be convinced the struggles are real.
4 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly? What would you have done differently? (100 words max)
Investment hasn’t been equitable across our county. The residents of District 3, from Willow Brook to the Golden Mile, are treated as an afterthought. Ribbon cuttings open new libraries in Myersville and Walkersville and Brunswick, and we’re left waiting. Expensive parks with high-end amenities open near Adamstown and Thurmont and Urbana and we’re left waiting. Like those communities, District 3 deserves an accessible modern library rooted in our community. Investment must be driven by community needs and not by the easy availability of developer contributions. Planning must be led by community input and not decided before the community is included.
5 – What do you think of the county's goal of preserving 100,000 acres of farmland by 2040? (100 words max)
This is a fantastic goal and absolutely attainable. As we watch, farmland, and wilderness for that matter, disappear across Maryland; it is vital that Frederick County preserve what we have. These are natural resources that are simple to pave over and so difficult to recreate. No neighborhood exists in a vacuum, and as the largest county in Maryland, we are fortunate to have the ability to maintain so many different landscapes and lifestyles in such close proximity to another.
6 – How well does the county do at attracting new businesses and significant employers? What should the county do? (100 words max)
As a small business consultant, I work with local entrepreneurs every day who are starting and growing businesses here in Frederick County. Their challenges are still so similar to the roadblocks I faced when establishing my own Frederick-based businesses in construction services and the restaurant industry. Our county has made strong efforts to attract new businesses to our community, but can do more to nurture and develop the talents and entrepreneurial spirit that already exists here. Access to capital is still severely limited for emerging businesses.
7 – What do you think of the Livable Frederick Master Plan? How should the county grow in population and development? (100 words max)
Comprehensive and aspirational long-term planning is crucial to building the inclusive world our children deserve. The LFMP details a wonderful framework, but everything depends on implementation. With so many goals, we already see aspects losing priority and communities falling behind. Taxes are collected on real estate transactions in every part of the county, yet a huge portion of that is earmarked for agricultural preservation and parkland, almost none of which is invested in our District 3. Only a fraction is earmarked for affordable housing, which our district desperately needs. Implementation of master planning cannot further investment disparities.
8 – Do you support a plan to widen interstates 270 and 495 and add tolls? Why or why not? (100 words max)
As our region develops, traffic is a growing challenge. As regional transportation investments are considered, our county must fight to ensure that U.S. 15 is an integral part of regional planning. Expansion of 495 and 270 will not solve our problems if the bottlenecks are simply pushed north onto U.S. 15, where we already struggle with congestion. The proposed extremely high tolls modeled on Virginia’s highways that top $50 per trip are economically discriminatory and create a two-tiered transportation system where the privileged speed past the rest of the community. We hate traffic, but class segregation isn’t the answer.
9 – How well is the county caring for a rapidly growing population of older residents? How would you address future needs? (100 words max)
We deserve to live in a community where parents and grandparents can comfortably remain while watching their children blossom into their own independent lives. That requires creating and maintaining communities where residents can safely age and succeed in their next phases of life. We must continue to incentivize senior housing through the expansion of credits and overlays. Future development and small area planning must be viewed through a senior’s lens, so that we are not simply creating micro senior neighborhoods, but instead integrating them with the overall community. Walkability, senior recreation, accessible streetscape should be fundamental to how we develop.
10 – Has the county spent its money wisely? Give specific examples. (100 words max)
As a businesswoman and mother, I know how important maintaining a tight budget and being cost conscious is. No parent wants to leave a burden for their children and our county cannot bankrupt the next generation. Our county has wisely been careful to not overspend. When we have spent though, the investment has not been evenly distributed, which has been unwise and unfair. Neighborhoods in our District 3 are left waiting while other communities receive libraries and parks. Flashy new developments are built while our existing centers are left deteriorating. Let’s take ownership for how our tax dollars are invested.