Meet Two Great Republicans
Brigitta Mullican and Joel Keralis
BRIGITTA, a new member on Central Committee, became involved in politics after she retired from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. She became aware, that the same year she retired, there was a non-partisan election for the City of Rockville Mayor, but there was only one candidate. She felt it was not good there was no choice for voters. She was involved with the Alliance of Rockville Citizens, a group that followed the various City of Rockville and Montgomery County elections, and Brigitta was most interested in how her city taxes were spent.
As a nursing home coordinator in the Montgomery County Board of Elections Absentee Voter Department, she was responsible for sending teams to assisted living and nursing facilities. She worked as a temporary employee during the 2005 General Election. Following that, she served as an assistant chief election judge for various City of Rockville and Montgomery County Elections.
Brigitta is a naturalized citizen, who celebrated her citizenship when a Richard Montgomery High School high school student. Her entire English class witnessed her taking the oath on what she describes as “my most exciting day”. Born in Coburg, Germany, she immigrated to America in 1956 with her two brothers and her parents. She admits to being a very determined person who always tries to do her best.
Growing up with two brothers, Brigitta describes herself as a tomboy and athletic, having played softball, basketball, volleyball, and bowling. When her three sisters were born she cared for them while her parents worked. She says here parents were strict. With her husband and daughter she used to participate in club “volksmarches” (German for hiking, Germany’s very popular sport) on weekends. For entertainment she likes reading political books and watching romantic movies. Puzzles, sewing, crocheting and knitting are hobbies. During the pandemic Brigitta sewed 1,020 masks!
She dislikes when people disrespect others, and those who do not respect our laws. Illegal immigration offends her because it is unfair to those, who like her family, waited in line and want to be in America legally and obey our laws.
Brigitta worked hard to complete her education at night while working full time and raising a family. She completed a 36-year career with the Department of Health and Human Resources. She started her government job right out of high school as a stenography and worked her way up the administrative ladder to budget officer. Her volunteer work with school, church and nonprofit organizations is a source of pride.
She After retiring she has visited traveled to Singapore, France, England, Panama, Cuba, Ecuador, Greece, Spain, and lived in Germany until she was 7 years old . She would not want to live anywhere else than America, because this is the country that her family believes provided them the best opportunity, freedom, and law and order.
Welcome, Brigitta, as our new treasurer.
Joel’s job keeps him very busy on Capitol Hill where he works in the House of Representatives. Joel is a legislative assistant for a Conservative Republican Congressman, Adrian Smith of Nebraska. He regularly meets with local and national stakeholders to discuss pending legislation, drafts legislation for the Congressman, works with committee and leadership staff to advance the Congressman’s priorities on issues including health care, foreign policy, defense, veterans’ affairs, judiciary issues, and education. Joel has always been interested in politics. His grandfather was a Republican activist and regular donor. Joel remembers being fascinated with the letters his grandfather received from political figures, and loved the political pins and buttons his grandfather collected.
Of course, working in the MD/Washington, DC area presents many opportunities to meet fascinating people. Joel found Jay Aeba, Chairman of the Japanese Conservative Union (JCU) to e one of the most interesting men he’s met. Chairman Aeba worked with Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union to establish a Japanese sister organization connecting the Japanese people with American-style conservatism - especially limited government, a spirit of independence, and the protection of shared traditional values. Chairman Aeba and the JCU host a Japanese version of CPAC which often features conservative icons from American politics.
Joel was born in Omaha, NB, and grew up in the area of Lincoln, NB, the state capitol. He went to a rural consolidated high school, “literally in the middle of a cornfield.” He worked as a farmhand on weekends and detasseled corn during the summers. Like many young farm boys,Joel learned to drive a John Deere 4450 tractor before he could drive a car.
His father is a doctor and his mother worked at home taking care of Joel’s siblings: one sister, and one brother. As a family they frequently travelled internationally because his father did medical work in places like India, Zimbabwe and the Phillipines. He greatly admires the boldness and passion his parents exhibited traveling the world with the whole family to help people in poor and remote areas where doctors were needed. Joel had visited every continent except Antarctica by the time he was 20 years old.
His favorite place in the world is Kyoto, Japan. However the Italian ski town,Canazei. Is a close second. Kyoto was the old imperial capital of Japan up until the late 1800's when the capital moved to Tokyo, so it has thousands of ancient shrines, temples, and monuments. It was also the largest Japanese city to avoid firebombing during WWII, so it is relatively unique in Japan as a large city that retains its ancient street layout and traditional architecture. You could spend five years in Kyoto visiting a different temple or shrine every day and you still wouldn't have seen all of them.
Jessica, Joel’s wife, works at the CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, and is in her final year of an epidemiology and biostatistics PhD program at the University of Maryland. They met at Texas A & M University as undergrad students, and currently have two cats.
Deep involvement in the legislative process developing new bills, specifically drafting new legislative language based on a idea in his head is one of Joel’s favorite experiences. He finds the idea transitioning to words, improving the concepts, and then seeing it become a permanent part of the history of our great country extremely gratifying.
Joel decided to get more involved locally due to his frustration that the DC area, Silver Spring and other lower crescent county areas are uncontested democrat strongholds. If Silver Spring will never send a Republican delegate or senator to Annapolis, he wants people to at least feel they have to acknowledge the presence and value of Republicans, and make a little effort into running for office rather than take it for granted they have it locked up.
Garrett County, particularly Swallow Falls State Park and Wisp ski resort are favorite vacation spots. He likes hiking, often on Catoctin Mountain, and camping at Green Ridge State Forest,. Sports, MLB and NFL and college football are his favorite tv shows, while he likes science fiction and fantasy books as well as Japanese-style comic books. Chef Joel enjoys cooking, frequently making traditional Italian, Japanese and Korean dishes. Favorite restaurants in LD20 are Ikko Sushi, LaMalinche, and El Sapo in Silver Spring, plus Trattoria da Lina and Republic in Takoma Park.
As for the future, Joel plans to continue balancing his local and national political involvement, while short-term hopes to become Legislative Director in the House or elsewhere. Goals include helping strengthen local GOP operations and help local candidates succeed. He is considering a run for office himself at some future time.
Like most of us, Joel would LOVE to see at least one Republican on County Council. Redistricting may not have created any easily winnable seats, but the two new County Council districts hopefully present an opportunity for a greater diversity of views on the Council. We all need to work together as a team to recruit high quality candidates who can appeal to enough voters to compete against the democrats!
When not occupied with Central Committee, work and their busy lives, Jessica and Joel escape deep in the woods north of Cumberland where he enjoys working on his 100-year-old cabin, hunting, and fishing.
Karol Smith is a writer, former candidate, organizer of GOP Asbury and a member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee.