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Brookeville commissioners trying to make a big difference in small town –

Brookeville commissioners trying to make a big difference in small town

by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer

Brookeville Town Commission President Suzanne Daley’s introduction to a political career is not as storied as some others.
She was talking with then-Commissioners Katherine Farquhar and Michael Acierno the night a town resident’s house burned down.  “We were all outside trying to be useful and they said they thought I’d make a really great commissioner,” Daley said. “I ran unopposed and the rest is history.”  She assumed the role of commission president in January, following the resignation of Farquhar. She and Commissioner Robert “Buck” Bartley decided she should be president since she had seniority.

A resident of High Street since 2007, she was first elected to the commission in 2011. Bartley was elected in 2014.
“President is just a title and this is definitely not a one-person show,” she said. “I was extremely lucky to have served with Michael [Acierno] and Katherine [Farquhar]. They are both hardworking, dedicated and very smart people.”
“I am following in some pretty big footsteps and I hope I can do as good of a job as they did,” Daley added. “I am certainly trying.”  She said she is equally blessed to be working alongside Bartley and Commissioner Jeff Johnson.
“Buck is there if you need anything — he is the epitome of a good neighbor,” Daley said. “And while Jeff has only been here a short time, he brings a new perspective and new ideas.”  As commission president, she said she has three jobs.
“The first is the Brookeville Bypass, which is coming closer and closer,” she said.

Other jobs are getting the Brookeville Schoolhouse repaired and finalizing an agreement with Heritage Montgomery to use it for educational programming, and making improvements to the Brookeville Academy, both inside and out.
In addition to her fellow commissioners, she credits other town staff for keeping the town running — clerk Cate McDonald, treasurer Susan Johnson and property manager Andrea Scanlon.   “They are all so nice and friendly and easy to work with, and all are pretty stinking smart, too,” Daley said. “They devote a lot of their time keeping this town running.”   She said the biggest challenge is that it is an unpaid job, and finding the time needed to do it well is difficult.
“There are some weeks when it is nothing and others when we are headed to hearing in Annapolis and meeting with the State Highway Administration about the bypass,” she said. “But it has been nice to see how the town works.”
Daley had no prior civic experience, partly because she never owned a house before now.  “It has been interesting and rewarding, especially to see how hard work pays off,” she said.

Daley’s life outside of her civic role revolves around animals. She has worked at numerous zoos, including the Bronx Zoo and the Central Park Zoo. She met her husband, Don Moore, while working at a zoo.   She is works as a veterinary technician at Laytonsville Veterinary Practice and in the process of finding a new dog.   She also enjoys gardening and reading, especially English police mysteries. ‘I really enjoy serving’

Bartley, 78, has lived in Brookeville since 1996, but in Montgomery County most of his life.   He has been a commissioner since 2014 and his term expires in May.   He draws much of his experience from being a business owner. He founded Bartley Corporation with his brother, but three years ago they turned the company over to their sons.
While he still works, Bartley said the responsibility has shifted to someone else’s shoulders, freeing up some of his time. He has devoted that time to his community and his church.   He has enjoyed working as a community servant, even the challenges.  “I like problem solving,” Bartley said. “I always try to listen and put myself in others’ shoes to come to a resolution that works for everybody.”  He also relies heavily on his faith.  “One of the joys is being able to use peaceful Quaker means to be able to resolve many of the issues that have come up,” he said.  He believes one of the biggest challenges the town has faced is the Brookeville Bypass, which after being on the books for decades, finally appears imminent.  “We need to give Gov. Hogan credit for finally getting this on the right track,” he said.    Bartley believes the town’s 2014 Bicentennial Celebration, marking the role Brookeville played in the War of 1812, organized by resident Sandra Heiler, helped to draw political attention to the need for the bypass.   The road will come close to his home on Church Street, and he said his wife is not looking forward to it because they are currently surrounded by “nothing by nature.”   “I know it is right for the town,” he said.   However, serving as a commissioner is as far as Bartley’s political ambitions go.    “I know everyone in town, so it is like working for your neighbors,” Bartley said, adding he loves “our small-town Quaker roots.”   Bartley said he has acquired some of the Quaker beliefs¬ of simple pleasures, a simple life and recognizing that peace is the answer.   He sees his jobs as serving Salem United Methodist Church, which is in his front yard, as well as serving the town and working.
He is also committed to his wife Susan and their six children.   While Bartley likes to fish, he considers service to be his favorite hobby.    “I really enjoy serving, and there are plenty of opportunities,” he said.  ‘I am happy to help out in any way I can’

Jeffrey Johnson is the newest Brookeville commissioner, appointed in January, following the resignation of Farquhar.
Johnson, 58, has lived on Water Street in Brookeville since 2004.    Formerly of Houston, he came to this area for a job opportunity as an information technology executive.  It took some time to locate a house. Eventually, he decided on a location between Baltimore, where he would work, and Washington, D.C., where his wife would work. He came to the end of Metro’s Red Line at Glenmont and headed north on Georgia Avenue. “I got to Brookeville and felt like I had entered and alternate universe,” he said. “It had character and cute houses. It had good proximity to Baltimore and D.C. and it was safe. And I love that we are surrounded by nature, not just jam-packed suburbia.”
Prior to accepting the appointment from Daley and Bartley, he had not held any official role in the town, other than volunteering for the Brookeville’s War of 1812 bicentennial commemoration.   “When I was asked to become a commissioner by Sue [Daley] and Buck [Bartley], I felt like I needed to do my part,” he said. “I am happy to help out any way I can.”  He said that he believes the commissioners are helping the town by continuing to press for the bypass, which he considers both “a challenge and an opportunity.”

“With the bypass coming, some changing of the guard and new people coming into the town, there is an opportunity for Brookeville to become quieter, more bucolic and have a higher level of neighborhood cohesion,” Johnson said.
“There are things we can do as a town, such as lowering the speed limit and improving the intersection to create a disincentive for through traffic, while improving the safety and walkability of the town,” he added.
Johnson said commissioners need to fix up a few things and work together to keep Brookeville a safe community, which would help increase property values.   His term expires in May and he has not yet decided if he will seek re-election.
“I will look to Buck and Sue for guidance, and determine if I can add value and be a productive member,” he said.
Johnson is married to Marti Andress, a professional artist who works in glass and portraits, and has an exuberant black Labrador named Loki.
In his spare time, he plays piano and bass and listens to music. He is also an amateur artist, creating sculptures from metal and glass.

Terri Hogan can be reached at [email protected]

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