By Zach Sparks
While many politicians preach about the need for change as they run for office, new Pasadena Councilman Nathan Volke wants to keep Pasadena on the current track established by its recent leadership. Limit overdevelopment and keep taxes low.
“From a budget standpoint, I think Pasadena has done well with the Lake Shore fire house and Eastern District Police Station,” Volke said. “I want to make sure the funding stays for the Riviera Beach Library. I think Derek Fink did a great job as councilman.”
With the term-limited Fink stepping down from the dais, Volke saw the opportunity to serve the area he has called home since childhood. And it’s the type of role he has been groomed for after interning for former District 3 councilman Ron Dillon in 2006 and campaigning for Delegate Nic Kipke, who is well-respected in his role of House minority leader.
“One of the bright spots in this year’s election was seeing Nathan Volke sworn in as Pasadena’s councilman,” Kipke said. “I’ve known him for many years and am confident that he will fight to protect taxpayers and work hard to solve problems for the people in our community.”
Dillon remembers Volke as one of a handful of talented students from Northeast and Chesapeake high schools. “In particular, Nathan stood out to me because we had similar demeanor,” Dillon said. “He was easygoing and would listen before making a comment or answering a question. He was and is very even keel, which I think is an asset in life, especially politics these days.”
While Volke exudes the persona of a friendly and agreeable person, someone you’d never expect to get into a fight with, his background as a litigation attorney with the Law Office of Laura E. Burrows proves that he can be tenacious in arguing a case. But that doesn’t mean he is close-minded or argumentative.
“One thing about Nathan that will serve him well as councilman is that he’s naturally collaborative,” Kipke said. “You don’t always see that in people who get elected. He’s smart, and the way he seeks input from others about important decisions will ultimately serve our area very well.”
Volke learned those lessons while working for Dillon and Kipke and also when serving on the Anne Arundel County Republican Central Committee for eight years. As the committee’s president from 2013 to 2016, he corralled votes for Larry Hogan as governor and Donald Trump as president.
Whether he’s making decisions about land use and the General Development Plan or he’s voting on the budget, he knows he can consult past Pasadena councilmen at the county level or current representatives at the state level.
“It’s such a unique process that doing it for the first time can be a bit overwhelming,” Volke said of the General Development Plan. “I have those connections and it would be foolish to not listen to those perspectives.”
At home, that other perspective is often his wife, Kristi, who was his high school sweetheart. Volke met Kristi at Chesapeake High School when they were cast in lead roles for the school’s production of “Guys and Dolls.”
“We were in costume, but it wasn’t anything weird,” Volke joked. “The guys wore tuxedo shirts and the girls wore glitzy dresses.”
Now, he uses his voice as a singer on the praise team at Hope Springs Community Church, which has a non-denominational congregation that meets at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold.
As he balances his work efforts to help people using his knowledge of family law and his service efforts to make Pasadena a better place, he’s encouraged by his new colleagues on the county council. Following the election in November, the council underwent major changes. Only one member, Andrew Pruski of District 4, is entering a second term. The council features five women after having none since the departures of Cathy Vitale and Tricia Johnson in 2010. The council also has a 4-3 Democrat majority after having a 4-3 Republican majority the last eight years.
“It’s a good thing and it’s also going to be challenging,” Volke said of the council having several new members. “Everyone on the council has a different background. We all have experience taking public input and using public input. Someone like Andrew Pruski was on the school board, so he has that background in education … there are new voices in the room, so they will listen in a different way.”
Drawing a humble but confident conclusion, he said, “I’m used to asking tough questions and I’m used to advocating for a position. My district is my client and my clients are paying taxes, so I will make sure they get what they are entitled to.”