Montgomery County is thriving, with an unemployment rate of 5.7%. This is below the state average of 6%. However, there are hardworking residents of Montgomery County who still need training, opportunities, and fair wage-paying jobs. I support workforce development programs that provide guidance through education, training, and apprenticeships leading to good jobs. My goal is to determine the most-needed skills and how to best foster county-employer relationships.
President Biden set the benchmark for this with his $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, creating well-paying jobs by unlocking funds for broadband, transportation, and other major projects. I will support county efforts to implement this law, to be inclusive of all County residents seeking training and fair wage-paying employment.
While there are some contracts granted to unions, the percentage is inadequate. Unions offer good wages, benefits, and retirement opportunities. Therefore, I propose that 25% of Montgomery County contracts be awarded to union shops.
I support legislation that guarantees respect and equal treatment for all, regardless of gender identification, race identification, religious belief, or other personal choices.
Montgomery County is nationally recognized for the quality of our educational system. District 6 includes such great schools as Rockville, Albert Einstein, and Kennedy High Schools. In addition, our county boasts one of the most diverse school systems in the country. We must provide resources so that all can succeed. To maintain our excellence, we must ensure that we properly support teachers, particularly post-COVID.
But must do much more for to support this essential component of our county. First, we have to acknowledge that there is a dispiriting dynamic that will greatly affect our county’s educational system if not addressed. The County is struggling to recruit teachers and those that have stayed are often dismayed and discouraged. Unfortunately, many are choosing to take an early retirement. Our County’s kids can not learn without teachers. We must do more to address morale. My education platform includes the following ideas:
Many more administrative demands and classroom expectations are being placed on teachers at a time when so many are leaving the profession. If elected, I propose to consider how we can properly compensate our teachers for the growing shift of so much of their work to off-hour, uncompensated time.
Let’s thank teachers for their immense efforts during the past two years of the pandemic. We need to consider a bonus or tax credit to show them we appreciate their efforts to teach our children through many challenges. The additional efforts our teachers put forth during COVID should yield at a minimum one-time bonus or tax credit to all teachers who taught in-person and virtually and guided our children through their learning process during this difficult time.
Let’s also recognize the mental health needs of students and teachers. Each school should be provided sufficient behavioral health staff to address mental health challenges, particularly for teens.
Let’s envision a future where all County high school graduates can afford to go to Montgomery College.
We should also recognize that not all students wish to go to college. Let’s introduce trade skill development in high schools so that there are economic opportunities for those with an interest in the trades. This would also be a terrific asset for business development in the County. I propose that we develop high school partnerships and internships with businesses in the county to support this reality.
As a candidate for County Council, District 6, I have witnessed first hand and had one-on-one conversations with our local police officers and first responders. Every conversation has indicated a need for community support of our public safety officers. We often overlook the importance of their role in our community. I recommend we revisit the responsibilities of our police as public servants, not simply guard dogs—in our community, schools, neighborhoods, and on our roadways. We have to bridge the gap between behavioral health professionals, police, and other first responders. We need to clarify the responsibilities of each, and provide specialty officers with mental health training. Police and trained mental health professionals should set guidelines together for field activity and citizen needs.
We must rewrite the responsibilities of our officers as the individuals trained to keep us safe. Supervisors need to work towards maintaining good morale within the Police Department. I recommend incentives for hiring police officers such as a one-time signing bonus, and time and grade incentives for keeping senior officers. This will help retain senior officers with longstanding experience to maintain the established structure.
I support and will sponsor bills to repeal the new “Use of Force“ laws and revert back to a “Reasonable Standard” that affects law enforcement. I support increased de-escalation training to assist police in finding alternatives to the “Use of Force” whenever possible.
More citizen engagement with law enforcement through community programs is crucial. The County needs to fund such programs in order for them to be effective. Talking is not enough.
Public Safety encompasses more than just the police department. County building inspections must meet the standards of the National Building Code Standards, National Electrical Code, and the authority with jurisdiction in any particular area. Residential rental properties must be inspected annually and documentation visibly posted. All trades must take responsibilty for their installations. Routine maintenance should only be conducted by licensed contractors. General contractors must use licensed subcontractors for all projects, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC installations. Pepco must be compelled to complete a work order, under normal circumstances, within 30 days of submission, as should Washington Gas.
I continue to promote the Sanctuary County as a law, to provide undocumented immigrants or refugees protection from deportation.
I am determined to help this county and our community preserve our green spaces. I support the County’s plan for addressing climate change but believe more can be done. I also support the Maryland Handbook for Green Teams, which provides guidance to communities wishing to work at the local level. More socially just communities mean more equitable access to resources and decisionmaking in ways that benefit the entire community.
I believe in a commitment to green buildings as we continue to develop. I also advocate the use of solar shingles, which are smaller and less invasive to the environment than panels on residential roofs. The county should require Energy Star appliances and contractor-installed EV chargers in all new residential construction, and encourage the use of smart systems in homes.
Let’s also consider how technology can guide us. For example, carbon footprint apps on phones allow us to monitor our carbon usage and can motivate us to make conservative choices regarding our climate. Let’s continue to support the elimination of plastic straws in the county. Replace them with straws made from recycled paper. Let’s bring back paper bags and eliminate plastic shopping bags and other single-use plastics wherever feasible. Lined paper bags could serve as kitchen garbage and diaper-disposal bags.
Most importantly, let’s engage neighborhoods and civic associations in developing a plan of action. It is only with such involvement that we are likely to see change and action from residents across our county.
A large number of residents in Montgomery County’s District 6 are unable to be self-sufficient. Acccording to Montgomery County self-sufficiency standards, 34% of the residents in this district rely on government support. These individuals are unable to obtain affordable housing. As a community, we must make provisions for safe, affordable, and adequate dwellings for all residents. Rental assistance in the county is provided primarily through the housing choice voucher program. Currently only 7,441 assistance vouchers are allocated. I propose to double this allocation.
Montgomery County is widely recognized for protecting tenants. Currently the county has stringent requirements for landlords. This is a potential issue due to property owner reluctance to rent given these protections. We must find ways to encourage more potential landlords to rent their properties. For example, landlords currently cannot raise rent by more than .4% annually. However, eviction periods should be shortened from one year to 4 months.
I propose an affordable housing bill to support County employees, including teachers, police, and workers. This should encourage these important public servants to remain in our community.
Montgomery County is an ever-growing area in need of safe and practical growth based on studies and analyses. Improved access to Metro, MARC lines, and major bus routes is one of our biggest concerns. As Montgomery County residents we value the need for sustainable, reliable, and safe transportation. It is also important that we publicize existing services, such as the Senior Metro card and Metro Access for handicapped and otherwise disabled residents.
Electric buses can be a significant factor in reducing gas emissions, helping to meet the Thrive 2050 and Vision Zero plans. Electric vehicle buyers should continue to get tax breaks on their purchases. Expanded access to charging stations is critical to the adoption of electric vehicles. Route 270 should incorporate a bus lane, with the goal of reducing vehicular traffic and single person vehicle commuters. We can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions with a combined effort from the county and our residents.
Residents have to be comfortable walking with a stroller, riding a bicycle, jogging, and accessing our extensive transportation system. Safe sidewalks, bike lanes, and pedestrian paths are extremely important to our community. Bike paths and walking trails need regular cleanup of litter and easy access to trash cans and recycling bins. I propose we also add small areas with benches and trash cans along these paths.
Zoned permits for street parking have become necessary in many neighborhoods in District 6. While enlarging driveways to accommodate more cars might be a partial solution, code requirements for stormwater management and surface runoff must also be enforced.