by Lisa Moody Breslin photography by Walter P. Calahan
Ian Shaw has served as the mayor of Sykesville since 2013, and he and his wife, Joann, have been residents for more than 20 years. Their bull terrier, Harley, calls Sykesville home too.
Family members include their daughter and son-in-law, Jessica and Christopher Zador; grandchildren, Skylar and Jaxon; brother, Bryn, and sister-in-law, Jill; mother, Louie Shaw and father, the late Walter Shaw.
Before you became mayor and involved in small town politics, how did you envision the mayor’s role? Before I became mayor, I envisioned town politics as arbitrary and close minded. At the time, it seemed like the leadership had lost touch with the changing residents of the town and their expectations of the future.
Now that you are seasoned, so to speak, how does reality compare to what you envisioned? Now that I have become the mayor the reality of the amount of time, work and sacrifice for your family is a lot more than I had envisioned when running. There are so many aspects of town leadership to deal with on a daily basis it really does keep you busy.
What has thrilled you the most about Sykesville happenings over that last two years? Feel free to share your Top Two thrills: The completion of the south branch Skate Park, playground and pavilion. I started work on this with Howard County Leadership as a councilman. It really is a great partnership and to have been part of the rebuilding and regrowth that effort has yielded has been very rewarding.
The second thrill has been the revival of Main Street – this energy has not been around since I lived here for the last 20 years. We have had a series of great, talented people – a dedicated town council, highly qualified local business people, countless volunteers and a committed town staff all working together to make Sykesville a small town destination. I am thrilled to be a part of this effort that had brought new life and enjoyment to Sykesville residents. Being named Coolest Town in America was simply icing on the cake.
Which two jobs listed on your resume best prepared you for this role? My involvement and subsequent ownership of my own small business – managing every aspect of day-to-day operations. The town mirrors a small business in many aspects. My current job as an associate broker with Long and Foster Real Estate has further helped me navigate numerous transactions with the town as well. This role requires you to deal effectively with many different types of people. My real estate role has prepared me for that as well.
Other experiences that might not be on your resume that prepared you for the role as mayor? My early blue collar roots working in automotive machining and running my own small lawn maintenance service. These really helped me understand and value people from all walks of life. That experience, along with my challenging juvenile years, have helped me be passionate about people – all ages, all colors , all styles – you really need that as mayor.
List one of the biggest challenges you have faced as mayor. Well, there are two. One, convincing and re-convincing my wife this was a good idea. Second, keeping a dedicated town council moving and growing as I continue to do all I can to keep the many aspects of the town’s operations functioning daily with staff and management. There are so many people, ideas, goals, and aspects – many are often underestimated. Just as I had underestimated them when I ran for mayor.
How do you hope your colleagues and residents describe your leadership style? (Three adjectives) Passionate, trustworthy, committed.
What is your favorite way to unwind? Fishing, friends, football and motorcycles
Effective leaders who have inspired you? Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan
Unlikely leaders who have inspired you? Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs
Favorite authors or musicians? Author – Emmet Fox; Musicians – Eric Clapton, George Strait
One thing about you that very few people know? I am a trained auctioneer.