GAITHERSBURG — James Rolfes says he hopes to bring his experience working for government transparency and accountability to the Gaithersburg City Council.
Rolfes, who was chosen as one of the five finalist candidates to serve the balance of late Council Member Henry F. Marraffa Jr.’s final term, moved to Maryland from central Ohio in the late 1980s and worked for 10 years as a locksmith, eight of them with the National Institutes of Health, while attending night classes at community college. After this, he earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, graduating magna cum laude, and began a long career in the federal government by taking an entry-level information technology job with the Department of the Interior. While continuing to work for the government in various capacities, Rolfes earned a master of science and then a doctor of management degree from the University of Maryland University College.
“Much of my work has been in support of government transparency, accountability, strategic planning, performance management, and effective governance practices that resulted in tangible improvements and outcomes,” said Rolfes, who currently works as assistant executive director of the Consumer Safety Commission’s Office of Information Technology. “I have provided leadership for government financial, natural resource, human capital, emergency services, regulations, and data management disciplines.”
Outside of his government experience, Rolfes has served as a youth athletics coach and volunteer firefighter and medical technician. He currently leads the Wootton Band Parents at Thomas S. Wootton High school, where he coordinates transportation, repairs, fundraising, and other volunteer efforts.
“I will provide a voice for considering broader implications of decisions that may be initially more limited in scope to help ensure that we have a cohesive framework for regulations, enforcement, and service delivery across the City,” Rolfes said. “I am keenly interested in activities that can increase citizen participation across the City. The broad variety of the interests, expertise and backgrounds provides enormous opportunity for citizen-based programs. I think this capacity should continue to be tapped and expanded in the areas of education enhancement, cultural arts, public service, and community leadership.”
Rolfes said that if he is chosen to fill the Council vacancy, he will run for a full-term next fall, but is undecided on running if he is not chosen.
“If I am not appointed I may run in the fall, depending on whether I believe I am a substantially better candidate for the City than one or more of the incumbents,” Rolfes said. “If I am not appointed, I am hopeful that whoever is will be successful. While I believe my skills and experience make me wellsuited for a leadership position at the City Council level, I am only pursuing this position based on a desire for the City to have the best leadership possible rather than any interest in personal recognition or authority. I will not feel compelled to run if a different appointee is leading the City well. In that case, I would not run but will likely choose to serve in a different capacity.”
Rolfes and the other four finalists will deliver public statements of interest to Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council at a work session on Jan. 23. Following interviews with each of the finalists, the Council will announce its election on Feb. 6, with the new member set to be sworn in two days later.