the four bears conaways of baltimore


When you think about major political families in the United States, the names of Kennedy and Bush are likely the first to come to mind.  These families have produced many members who, at one time or another, were on the country’s national stage.  However, one family has a distinction that no other political family in the United States can claim.  They have more immediate family members holding political offices simultaneously than any other.  Who is this family?  The Conaways of Baltimore.

Yes, if the Guinness Book of World Records had a category for the family with the most members holding elected office at the same time, the Conaways would most probably win hands down.  The patriarch, Frank M. Conaway Sr., is head of this amazing political dynasty.  Currently he serves as Clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.  Mary W. Conaway, Conaway’s wife, is Baltimore’s Register of Wills, an office she has held since 1982.  A few years ago Conaway’s daughter , Belinda K. Conaway, got the urge to serve the citizens of Baltimore’s City Council.  Since 2004, she has been a councilwoman sitting on Baltimore’s City Council.  Finally, the people voted Conaway’s son and namesake, Frank Jr., into a seat in Maryland’s House of Delegates.  After Frank Jr. took his oath of office in January that year, the Conaways achieved the distinction of having four members their immediate family concurrently serving in elected office.

The Conaways are dedicated public servants who want to improve the quality of life for their constituents in Baltimore.  Some of the issues they are trying to resolve and find solutions include:  Baltimore’s high violent crime and homicide rate; gangs and drug dealers corrupting the youth; major flaws in the city’s police department; lack of community policing; and improving the quality of education in a city where the drop-out rare is overwhelming.  In addition to facing these challenges head-on, the Conaways are always accessible, proactive and responsive to the needs of the community.  The Conaways “live” their jobs 24/7, listen to their constituents and, most importantly, take action.

Obviously, serving the public is in the family’s blood.  Frank M. Conaway Sr., passed his passion onto his family.  He was the driving force who inspired his wife and children to seek and win elected offices.  “We truly love serving the people.  Also, we believe in being accessible to our constituents.  That’s what it is all about,” Conaway Sr. commented when Belinda K. Conaway was the first of Conaway’s children to win public office.  In 2003, she was voted into a seat on the Baltimore City Council representing the citizens of the city’s 7th District.  In addition to growing up in a politically active family, she was motivated to run for office to serve the greater good, especially the children of Baltimore.  This was a natural progression for her since the works as a guidance counselor in Baltimore City Schools and was overwhelmed by the needs of the children with whom she works.  “As a guidance counselor for more than 14 years, I have been touched by the lives of students and parents.  It was time for me to carry my work to the next level by running for office.  Strengthening families has everything to do with improving the city of Baltimore.  I am an advocate not just for children, but for families,” comments Councilwoman Conaway.

During her tenure on the City Council, she has been a very visible presence in the communities she represents.  While children and education is her focus, Councilwoman Conaway is very active in trying to bring Baltimore’s violent crime statistics down and making the streets safe for everyone.  She firmly believes that bringing the people and government together to build networking relationships is critical to the success of any initiative.  “I take pride in being an independent voice for my constituents,” Conaway says.  Councilwoman Conaway was also elected as a delegate to the Democratic national Convention in 2004.

The most recent Conaway family member elected to public office is Frank M. Conaway Jr., who serves as a delegate to the Maryland General Assembly.  He overwhelmingly won the voters’ approval in November 2006.  “Papa Bear,” as Conaway Sr. is fondly called, was as proud as he could be when Frank Jr. was sworn in to the House of Delegates in January 2007.  This occasion was especially momentous because Frank Jr. was elected to occupy the very same seat in the House that his father had vacated many years ago.

Frank Jr.’s penchant for politics is deeply rooted in the same principals that motivate the other Conaways.  “My father taught me to care about people and to try to help them to the best of my ability.  I want to create advancements in our society.  I want to be part of the active, political process.  Also, I have a strong desire to become the people’s servant,” Conaway muses.  Looking toward the future Conaway adds, “I hope to become the type of elected official who does well in representing their constituents and listening to their concerns.  I will always express the truth, even if it is sometimes an unpleasant reality of the situation at hand.”

The Conaways are a family of dedicated, hard-working public servants who are leaving a lasting legacy to Baltimore.  They have put their indelible mark of public service on Baltimore, and, perhaps eventually, the nation.  The Conaways’ altruism and passion to improve society will be felt by generations and, hopefully, serve as inspiration to others to become involved.  Of course, there are the Conaway grandchildren who might become the leaders of tomorrow.    

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