- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
In deciding to run for Charles County commissioner in 2014, Bensville resident Melanie B. Holland is motivated she said, by wanting to see the county transform from a bedroom community into one where residents can live, work and play.
In addition to promoting economic development, Holland also wants to improve access to affordable housing, establish a local court charged with handling cases of military veterans charged with minor crimes and ensure the solvency of the county’s length of service awards program for volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel.
“My goal and my theme is a better way forward for Charles County,” she said.
Holland is the third candidate to officially file in the race for the District 2 commissioner Democratic primary, joining Commissioner Debra M. Davis (D) and Bryans Road resident Larreic Green, who’d previously filed to run for delegate before switching last month. Nanjemoy resident Johnny DeGiorgi, whom Davis defeated in the 2010 primary, has declared his intentions to run again in 2014, but as of Thursday afternoon had yet to file.
Holland retired in May after 33 years working as a federal manager. She said her experience specializing in financial and contract management, logistics, internal controls and audits — as well as overseeing a budget of more than $100 million — would be an asset to local government.
“My desire is to improve the quality of life in Charles County,” she said. “I know that I can make a difference. I was a manager with the government, and I know I made an impact there.”
A federal career familiarized Holland with the travails of those who commute daily into or near Washington, D.C. Holland took the commuter bus downtown for two decades, but said she knows people with two-hour, one-way commutes.
“I’m concerned about the environment, but I would like to see economic growth here because the goal is to turn the county away from being a bedroom community,” she said. “Charles County is transient ... because people are here for the government jobs, and then they’re gone, so you don’t see many people getting involved in the community. Most people spend most of their time outside the community, and that’s where the tax dollars go.”
A county resident for more than 20 years, Holland was sworn in last month as an alternate on the Property Tax Assessment Appeals Board and previously served on the Charles County Commission for Women.
A former board member of the United Way of Charles County and volunteer with the Southern Maryland Young Marines chapter, Holland also is active in the Berry Hill Manor Homeowners Association and Southern Maryland Homeowners Association Federation. Her husband, Ed, is president of both homeowners organizations.
It was while dropping children off at homes with outhouses instead of indoor plumbing as a volunteer with the Young Marines that Holland realized the county’s need for quality, affordable housing.
“I was appalled at the housing I saw in western Charles County,” she said.
The wife of a combat U.S. Marine veteran and sister-in-law to a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, Holland said the county needs a separate court to handle criminal cases of veterans battling substance abuse and service-related illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Veterans treatment courts increasingly are becoming popular nationwide as a way to rehabilitate veterans in crisis who commit crimes.
A state task force recently recommended establishing Maryland’s first veterans court in Prince George’s County.
Holland and her husband are active with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Maryland District 1, she said.