“Councilmember Kay Daniels-Cohen will not be here tonight, I’m not sure when she will be back,” said Takoma Park mayor Bruce Williams at the start of the Feb. 11 city council meeting.
“She was in the hospital this weekend and had a hip replacement yesterday, and she had some other things going on as well,” he said, “so we’re not sure when she will be back at a council meeting.” The councilmember is at Suburban Hospital and “expects to be there a couple of days before going to rehab,” reported the mayor.
He and the other councilmembers expressed sympathy and concern for Daniels-Cohen and her husband Jack.
Kay Daniels-Cohen was elected to the Ward 3 council chair in 2011 and is a bit more than mid-way through her first term. She is the only woman currently on the council, and one of the more senior in age. She brought to the council dais the cheerful positivism that characterized her decades of civic activism and involvement. Her remarks during the weekly council meetings’ Council Comment segment always include the passing out of virtual “gold stars” to individuals or groups who have done well in her estimation.
She is a second-generation Takoma Parkian. Her mother Opal Daniels was also a civic activist. The Opal A. Daniels Neighborhood Park on Hancock Ave was named in her honor. Activism runs in the family, Kay’s bother Buddy Daniels is a local Democratic Party precinct chair. Kay Daniels was married to Jack Cohen in 1993. Their Sherman Ave. residence is the house she and brother Buddy grew up in.
“I can only be myself. I can’t be anyone else.” she is quoted as saying in the Voice’s Talk of the Town column by Howard Kohn on the occasion of her 2011 council election win.
Until her election Daniels-Cohen was a member of the Takoma Junction Task Force, a citizens committee seeking ways to revitalize the business area at the intersection of Route 410 and Carroll Ave. As councilmember she championed “Food Truck Fridays” at the Junction. Temporarily waiving city ordinances that would have prohibited food trucks, several were invited to set up on Friday evenings, a move that has proved immensely popular.
She was also involved in the city Recreation Committee, which was instrumental in re-opening the Piney Branch Elementary swimming pool for public use, and in re-writing the city’s Recreation Department’s mission statement. She frequently appeared before the council for this and other causes, even while recovering from treatment for cancer a few years ago. Her interest in recreational activities stems from her previous career in physical recreation.