Wiser and more experienced, attorney hits campaign trail

Originally appeared in Silent News, October 2001.

Kelby Brick, an attorney who is deaf, is again running for a seat on the Greenbelt City Council in Maryland.

Brick ran for City Council two years ago but lost by fewer than 200 votes.

“As a deaf person, I understand the need to make all aspects of the government inclusive of all of its citizens. This means honoring, recognizing and meeting the needs and uniqueness of a diverse community,” Brick said.

Brick’s campaign kicked off with a non-partisan fundraiser co-hosted by Judy C. Stout, President of the Maryland Deaf and Hard of Hearing Democratic Club, and Gallaudet University President Dr. I. King Jordan.

“Two years ago, Kelby ran without any real organization or fundraising. He lost by fewer than 200 votes, so I knew that if he had support and funds, he had a very good chance to win,” Jordan said in an e-mail. “It will be a wonderful message to everyone, deaf and hearing, when he wins. Deaf people can do anything but hear!”

The fundraiser, which brought approximately 30 people, was only the beginning of Brick’s campaign. “Kelby has become more knowledgeable and has expanded his efforts to involve more people,” campaign manager Dan Brubaker said. “He’s also gotten more proficient with Greenbelt issues.”

The campaign team participated in Greenbelt’s Labor Day parade on Monday, Sept. 3, with Brick and his wife and son riding in a red convertible and approximately 15 campaign team members walking along while distributing flyers and throwing out campaign logo Frisbees, Brubaker said.

Brick, who originally hails from Pennsylvania, graduated from the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in 1989, and earned his bachelor’s degree in government from Gallaudet in 1993. It was at Gallaudet that Brick started his involvement in politics as Student Congress Speaker, among several other extracurricular activities. “Kelby was always an activist and a leader,” remembered Jordan. “He has those characteristics that many deaf people who were raised in homes where there were no communication barriers and there was confidence and self-esteem present. He’s bright and ambitious.”

After earning a law degree from Temple University, becoming the first deaf person to do so at the school, Brick moved back to Maryland. Prior to establishing his current private practice, Brick worked as legal counsel for the National Association of the Deaf’s Government Affairs department, and co-authored Legal Rights: The Guide for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.

George Schroeder is one of the residents in Greenbelt who intends to vote for Brick. “I have always wanted to see a deaf person running for political office. I am very glad that a young deaf man like Kelby Brick wants to run.”

Schroeder said he was especially impressed with Brick’s commitment to specific issues. “Greenbelt is a fine city to live in. Still, more improvements are needed, e.g. more protected bike paths, better safety on the streets during the day and after dark, and reduced crime, especially auto-theft.”

Brick’s main focuses include education, safety, environment and Greenbelt’s city budget. “I intend to ensure that those issues are being addressed proactively. Greenbelt is a truly special town and its residents deserve a responsive council willing to face those issues head-on,” Brick said.

Stout feels Brick has a solid future. “He, by nature, is a bright young fellow on his way up. One has to be special with unique skills and the ‘know-hows’ to successfully win a political campaign and to be ready to represent his constituencies on the Greenbelt City Council,” she commented. “Kelby is ready to do it, and he will make us proud, showing the world that as a deaf person he happens to be, he can rise to the occasion just as good as anybody in the general mainstream, and do a heck of a good job with his political, then civic responsibilities.”

Brick said a few factors contribute to his commitment to Greenbelt: “Persistence, the desire for public service, and the support of my family, friends and others in the community.” He hopes to gain the vote of the estimated 3,500 deaf residents of Greenbelt, which is located about 15 minutes from Washington, D.C. “I am running against five incumbents, which makes it very difficult. But with the community’s support I am confident that the election results will be favorable,” he said.

Jordan agrees. “With work and perseverance, he’ll really go places.”

The Brick campaign has a website at www.kelbybrick.com.

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