Hyattsville Election ’21: Interview with Kurt Brintzenhofe, Ward 5 candidate

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Kurt Brintzenhofe

Hyattsville’s 2021 election season is here, and with 20 candidates running for five ward seats and the mayor’s office, it may be the biggest election the city has ever seen. All week long, Route 1 Reporter will be introducing you to as many of the candidates as possible in a series of video interviews. Over the past week, Route1Reporter has interviewed 15 of the 20 candidates running. Today, we unveil the interviews with two of Hyattsville’s five Ward Five candidates, namely Sophie Gorman Oriani and Kurt Brintzenhofe.

Unfortunately, Ward Five candidates Daniel Amador and Patricia Page did not respond to requests for interviews before Monday morning, when the first of Route 1 Reporter’s candidate interviews published. The fifth candidate, Rommel Sandino, was unavailable before these interviews published due to a death in the family. Route 1 Reporter endeavors to speak with each before the election.

Route 1 Reporter’s interview with Brintzenhofe is below. 

In these interviews, each candidate was asked six questions. The questions were not shared with the candidates beforehand. The questions are also fairly broad, providing candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves and describe their approach to local government policymaking. 

Hyattsville’s election season concludes May 11, 2021. 

Theis:
Hello. My name is Michael Theis, editor and publisher of Route1Reporter.com. I’m here today with Kurt Brintzenhofe, one of five candidates running for council in Ward Five. In all, Hyattsville has 20 candidates running for five ward seats and the mayor’s office. This interview and others are intended to be a broad introduction to their candidacies and their approach to local government policy and policy making. Let’s begin. Kurt, how are you doing this morning?

Brintzenhofe:
I’m doing very good. Thank you, Michael.

Theis:
Excellent. First question. Tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you do and how did you come to live in Hyattsville?

Brintzenhofe:
what I do right now, I’m a part-time graduate student retired, um. I’m interested in social psychology. And so I’ve been working on a research project for less four years wrapping that up and I’d like to get more involved in the highest field politics, which I’ve been involved in from a public participant standpoint for last two years. But you know, I see that my background is an analyst and an acquisition specialist, It could be very useful to the council. So I thought this would be a good time and good use of, you know, my past talents to, you know, help Hyattsville.

Theis:
Okay. Then second question. Why are you running for Hyattsville City Council this year?

Brintzenhofe:
Uh, I’m running because I’ve been participating as a public participant for the last two years and I, you know, there’s some really good council members and I really appreciate their work and their effort. Um, but a lot of times it seems that they don’t go into the details. Don’t plan really far ahead, as far as what the implications might be. And I think I can add that to the table and help.

Theis:
Okay. Third question. What is the most pressing issue facing Hyattsville right now and what policies would you pursue to address it?

Brintzenhofe:
There’s a lot of issues as far. As pressing issues, certainly the COVID pandemic has put a stress on, on the city. Um, what other funding comes in from federal to help out with the money that Hyattsville has already put out there to help in the you know, the businesses, you know, we’ll see how that works out, budgeting wise, but I think the issue comes down in my opinion, to public participation in Hyattsville politics. And how can we do that adequately without just having the same people all the time, addressing the council, but how do we get the community involved? And that gets to another initiative that Mayor Hollinsworth, who I really respected, who resigned recently, she wanted to go into participatory budgeting and to do participatory budgeting, where you actually provide funds to each ward to address issues that the community in that ward thinks are really important, to do that you have to have community involvement. And right now I’m not sure how that would work well, given that, you know, some of the comments that council’s made what I’ve observed. So my initiative would be how do we work together to get community involvement, and that might be blocked representatives that come together with a council member. Um, I’ve got to talk to the community about that and see what they think, how that might work.

Theis:
Okay. Fourth question. What is a unique skill or perspective you would bring to this job if elected,

Brintzenhofe:
Skill, certainly I I’m very an expert in testing evaluation and program management for acquisition programs and contracting. Um, so the budgeting process to me is very familiar. It’s, you know, the federal budget I’m, I’m used to working with that. So I can go to the community or the Hyattsville budget folks, Mr. Brooks, and talk to him and understand what he’s telling me. Contracts are something I used to do. But the acquisition process of defining what it is you want to do, what do you need? What are the goals? What are the objectives? How do you go– what alternatives are available to you? Those are all things that I’ve done for decades. So I think that would be my most useful contribution to the Hyattsville council right there when they want to plan ahead and look at initiatives that might benefit the community.

Theis:
Okay. Fifth question, there are five candidates for council in your ward, including yourself. Which means there’s a mathematical chance the winner will receive less than half of the votes cast. If you were to win, how, if at all, would it change your approach to policymaking if most of the voters in your ward did not vote for you?

Brintzenhofe:
You know, I’d want to know what the, what the community wants. But certainly the approach I’ve already laid out is what I would like to pursue. But again, that comes down to discussion with community members, as far as what are the issues you want to see addressed? You know, how can we do that? And I can provide alternatives, work with the Council, work with community. But you’ve got to work with the community and the people that voted or didn’t vote for you. They’re still part of the community. So I’m, you know, I’m not going to change the approach that laid out, but I will work with the community to say, you know, what– is there any modifications I need to make or things I missed.

Theis:
Okay. Um, and my last question today, many hot button issues in our national political discourse are at their heart local issues. And I’m talking about such things as policing, education policy or debates over renaming landmarks and parks. How do you identify politically in a national context – such as democratic, Republican, socialist, or libertarian, or any term under the umbrella – And how do those values inform the policies you would pursue here in Hyattsville?

Brintzenhofe:
Yeah, that’s a good question. I identify as independent. I don’t like the approach to politics as a team sport. I abhor that. You know, Republicans have done some things in the last years right there which I would disagree with strongly. Like, Democrats have a good approach, but again, they, they tend to go off in a different direction just to, you know, create their own identity and make sure they get the votes. What I wanna do: Education policing, those are all areas that really need to be discussed. Education equity of education is a big one. The pandemic has really hit the public schools hard. And the students in policing, you know, with the, you know, the recent what was the name right there?

Brintzenhofe:
We had the shooting a couple of years ago of Leonard Shand and the grand jury did not charge the officers in that situation, but there’s still a perception, rightly or wrongly – I’m not going to go down that road since they were not charged – but you know, with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, all the other killings lately, you know, what do we do for the community to help them gain trust in the law enforcement? Which we need – We ask them to monitor a behavior to protect us. But if we don’t trust them, then that is a problem. So one of the things that I would look at from a social psychology standpoint is let’s get the groups together right there and have them interact. Police being one of those groups. So interaction is the big thing that I want to push as a, you know, if I were elected to the council interaction in the community with the group, with the proper groups and make it constructive.

Theis:
Okay, excellent. Kurt, that concludes the questions that I have for us this morning. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today and to those out there and Route1Reporter land. Thank you very much for watching through and following along with our coverage of Hyattsville elections and get out there and vote. Have a good day, everyone.

Brintzenhofe:
Thank you very much.

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