A New Perspective

John Zittrauer has been a Montgomery County resident for over a decade, and a renter for almost all of that time. He has seen the cost of living go up in our area, with our least fortunate residents hit the hardest and in many cases priced out of the place they have called home. John will bring a real preference for the poor to local politics, and any decision made by the council will begin by looking at how it will impact our most vulnerable.

 
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Bio

I'm originally from Savannah, Georgia, but moved to New York City when I graduated high school and lived there until I was 25, at which point I moved to Silver Spring on the recommendation of a friend who sold me on the idea of living here as a place without a lot of the madness of NYC but with the city (DC) still close by, and with a slightly lower cost of living. Aside from a brief stint as a homeowner in Rockville, I have been a renter my entire adult life. For the last few years, I have been a beneficiary of the county's Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit program, which has made living in the area more affordable, although my wife and I still essentially live paycheck-to-paycheck. Because of my experience with this program, I want to see an expansion of this program as well as public housing.


A lot of my political leanings come from personal experience, or the experiences of those I have lived with and around. Having spent most of my life as an hourly employee in retail and hospitality, where organized labor is essentially nonexistent, I realize the need for its presence in the lives of many and want to make it easier for workers to organize. Working with people who cannot afford to live near their place of work, I have the desire to see the cost of living brought under control, and to make it easier for people to get to jobs (eg transit, roads, bike lanes.)


I've been in recovery from drugs and alcohol for almost nine years, and in that time I have lost multiple friends and acquaintances to addiction. To help in that battle, and to stop the increase in overdoses this county is currently experiencing, I am pushing for supervised injection sites in the county. Having worked with many members of the community who are immigrants and learning of the fear they frequently carry around, I have come to understand the need to stop working with agencies like ICE. I've also lost friends and coworkers to mental illness and suicide, so I want mental health care to be more accessible and prioritized.

 

Why I'm Running

I've lived in this county for over a decade, and worked in retail and hospitality for all of my adult life. Like a lot of people in these and other industries, I've lived paycheck-to-paycheck for that whole time. This life experience brings a new perspective into local politics, where we spotlight diversity in all demographics except income and status. From my family, I learned a respect for all work regardless of how others may view it, and from my wife I constantly learn how to treat people with compassion and dignity.


This campaign is about uplifting our community by helping those of us who struggle, and giving a platform to people who have felt neglected by their government. When the pandemic began and the industry that I had made my career had to pause, I saw a lot of people wondering where their unemployment checks were and how they were going to pay rent; when those of us who were fortunate enough to go back to work returned, we wondered when we would become enough of a priority to be vaccinated. This has been a common theme: people with our low status are frequently discussed, but are rarely a part of the discussion ourselves. I'm trying to change that. My first priority will be to eliminate homelessness in one of the most affluent counties in the country through an increase in public housing while simultaneously redefining and increasing what the county calls affordable housing. We can afford to help our most vulnerable if we prioritize them.

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