On the heels of Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace Edie Connelly’s announcement that she’ll retire at the end of her current term, another longtime public servant has stepped forward to announce his bid for that position. After spending his entire adult life in public service, Captain Dan Zientek of the Precinct 3 Constable’s Office says he is now ready to be the next Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace.
Zientek’s interest in serving his community began early, as he planned to become a police officer when he graduated from high school. Unfortunately, at the age of 18, Zientek learned he couldn’t become a police officer until he was 21. In the meantime, Zientek got his paramedic certification and began working in EMS. His eagerness to serve his community was also met with age restriction in EMS, because insurance wouldn’t allow him to drive the ambulance. Zientek was performing the most difficult of lifesaving procedures in the back of the ambulance, but couldn’t get behind the wheel.
When Zientek turned 21, Montgomery County Precinct 5 Constable David Hill sponsored him in attending the academy to become a peace officer. Zientek was soon a Precinct 5 Reserve Deputy Constable. In the early 1991, Montgomery County was much smaller, and Constable Hill didn’t have a paid slot open, so Zientek remained a reserve as he worked as a paramedic until 1992, when he was hired as a Harris County Precinct 4 Deputy Constable. Amazingly, Zientek continued working as a paramedic, often going from one job to the other. Although he stopped working on an ambulance, Zientek kept his paramedic certification until around 2007 or 2008 when he began to focus entirely on his law enforcement career with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office under the leadership of Sheriff Tommy Gage. In 2008, Zientek became one of the original members of the MCSO Major Crimes Unit, where he continued to work and learn as he investigated everything from crimes against children to sex offender compliance. He rose to the level of lieutenant with the MCSO under Sheriff Gage, whom he praises for his encouragement and facilitation of continuing education to keep the agency up to date and moving forward, allowing the self-professed “nerd” to stay abreast of new technology.
Last August, Montgomery County Precinct 3 Constable Ryan Gable called Zientek and asked if he’d be interested in an administrative captain position in his agency. Zientek asked for a few days to give the offer some thought and prayer. Ultimately, he accepted the position. It was a natural fit, considering Zientek and his family live in Precinct 3, where they’re active in their church. Zientek and his wife, Kristie both work with the youth at Woodlands Church, as they continue raising the younger two of their three children. He likes the idea of working with young people and helping put their lives on a positive course, an opportunity he would in juvenile court as a JP.
Zientek loves his work in law enforcement, but also feels the background will be helpful in fulfilling his duties as Justice of the Peace. His investigative skills, for example, include extensive training and experience in crime scene analysis. Zientek is also accustom to the inevitability of being called out in the middle of the night, as he was for years working in Major Crimes, and as he would be in conducting inquests as judge.
Zientek had discussed the possibility of running for office with Judge Connelly quite a while back, saying he respected her too much to run against her, but would like to run when she decided to retire. At the time, Judge Connelly still planned to run again, saying how much she loved her job. However, she recently had a change of heart and she notified Zientek, setting the wheels in motion for his announcement.
Zientek says he plans to be fiscally responsible, while looking to implement technology that will make things run as efficiently and effectively as possible. A technophile by nature, Zientek also says he’ll work to compile and keep statistics and make them available to the public to whom he’ll be accountable.
The primary election is in March, but signup time begins next month. Dan Zientek’s preparation for the office arguably began when he was just 18 years old. His campaign for the position is now underway.