“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”Margaret Mead

Ethiopian-American Community in Maryland Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett Upcoming Montgomery County Elections

“I am an Ethiopian.”

Those were the opening words from Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett as he delivered the keynote speech at the Ethiopian Battle of Adwa Commemoration Ceremony held recently, for a standing-room-only audience, in Silver Spring, Maryland. The ceremony was sponsored and organized by the Ethiopian-Heritage Society in North America (EHSNA).

Ethiopian American Council (EAC) Endorses Isiah “Ike” Leggett for Re-Election

Intrigued by what they saw, EAC members sent a questionnaire to Mr. Leggett regarding some concerns they had about being Ethiopian-American and living in Montgomery County. His responses were thoughtful and compelling enough that EAC has decided to endorse him in his bid for re-election as Montgomery County Executive.

Ike Leggett: Point-by-Point

Mr. Leggett’s responses to issues included in the aforementioned questionnaire have been  summarized here for consideration by Ethiopian-American voters and their supporters residing in Montgomery County, Maryland.

• Creating an Ethiopian-American Community Center

Mr. Leggett provided funds in the current county budget, with the promise of more next year, to help in the creation of an Ethiopian Community Center. He acknowledged that our community may have other goals beyond that, and that he would consider all possibilities when it comes to preserving Ethiopian heritage and history.

Support for U.S. Immigration Reform

Mr. Leggett realizes that ineffective and sometimes unreasonable current immigration policies and laws are adversely affecting the lives of many immigrants. He believes that reform should provide an achievable pathway to U.S. citizenship. He has provided county funds to non-profits for legal assistance for the undocumented seeking to become legal. He has advised federal and local officials regarding his views on immigration reform. He and his staff have testified for reform before the U.S. Congress and the Maryland State General Assembly.

Making Amharic a “Working Language”

Mr Leggatt has indicated that he would be happy to work with the Ethiopian community to make Amharic a “working language” in Montgomery County, as has been done in D.C. and other communities. He will ask the Office of Community Partnerships to contact EAC and the Ethiopian-American community about this issue.

Commitment to All Who Live Here

Mr. Leggett is committed to immigrant populations who have chosen to come to Montgomery County to realize their potential and dreams. He established the Office of Community Partnerships and charged that office with broadening and deepening the outreach of county government into more diverse community groups. He created new advisory panels to assist him in understanding the needs of various groups and communicating more effectively with Pan African, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, and diverse faith communities.

Celebrating Many Faiths, Cultures, Nationalities

Mr. Leggett believes that in a diverse community we all must honor the traditions of many faiths, cultures, and nationalities. He offers that he is thrilled to participate in the Jewish, Chinese, Persian, Christian, and Tet New Years. He says he would be delighted to work with the Ethiopian community on a Heritage Flag Raising Ceremony for the county to mark the beginning of the Ethiopian New Year.

Voting Rights and Transparent Government

Mr Leggett has fully supported and implemented early voting to make voting easier and more convenient. He ensures that printed election materials are language sensitive. He created the Office of Community Partnership to engage residents, especially ethnic and cultural groups, to become more fully and meaningfully involved in the local governmental process, including the processes and responsibilities of full citizenship.

Civic Education Through Internships

Under Mr. Leggett’s guidance, the county government already provides internships to a diverse group of young people. He would be delighted to increase those numbers. He introduced funding to nonprofit organizations that help prepare immigrant youth to fully understand and participate in local civic affairs. He hopes that the new Ethiopian-American Community Center will help the county engage in offering more important intern work and education as well.

•Humor in a Public Servant Is Always Good

“If you calculated my age by the number of New Year’s celebrations I attend annually, I would be a centenarian.” That was one of the more humorous responses Mr. Leggett gave in his recent letter to EAC. In its letter of endorsement to Mr. Leggett, EAC surmised that Mr. Leggett probably awakens every Monday morning wondering which group is going to have a New Year celebration ceremony that week.

More to Come

As we near the Montgomery County Primary Elections in June, more information about Mr. Leggett will become available. Points mentioned above are only the beginning. We at EAC will endeavor to keep the Ethiopian-American community in Montgomery County abreast of political news and happenings as we work for the re-election of Ike Leggett as Montgomery County Executive.

 Register – Then Vote!

One of the pitiful lies about American democracy is that it is “participatory.” It was meant to be, but officials count themselves lucky if just 50 percent (often less) of registered voters show up at the polls, especially during off-year (non-presidential) elections. EAC reminds Ethiopian-Americans that it is their duty as citizens to vote in each and every election available to them. If any Ethiopian-American needs assistance or is facing difficulty in registering, they are encouraged to call EAC or the County Registrar’s Office.

 Isiah “Ike” Leggett – The Best Candidate

Remember that primary elections for Montgomery County officials will be held in June. Do your part: Register – then vote! Keep in mind that Ike Leggett is the best candidate for the Ethiopian-American community and we should help him keep his position as Montgomery County Executive. So far he has done a fine job for Ethiopian-Americans and the other residents of Montgomery County.