I’ve always been a champion for Montgomery County Public Schools. I attended Montgomery County Public Schools, went to Montgomery College, and graduated from the University of Maryland. Both of our daughters graduated from Quince Orchard High School. My wife Sally is a retired MCPS employee and one of our daughters works for MCPS. My top priority is ensuring that today’s children receive the same great education that I received and that my family received.
As Councilmember, I have been a strong advocate for additional school funding. We need to maintain our record of strong academics, but in today’s world that’s not enough. We need to provide students with an education that starts in pre-K, and ends in college and career. An important component of the performance gap in Montgomery County is the lack of universal pre-K. I support universal pre-K, and the Council is currently considering proposals for how we fund that.
We also need to increase our career education opportunities. I have been working with MCPS, Montgomery College, the Chambers of Commerce, Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation, and our community and nonprofit partners as well as my colleagues to see how we can accomplish what we need to be doing to further the goal of career education.
We need to have a multi-modal approach to transportation solutions. That starts with Metro, and ensuring a dedicated funding source for Metro. I support the recent legislation that was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law that creates a dedicated funding source for Metro. The Council needs to continue to work with Metro to improve its governance and to ensure Metro provides a reliable service that riders want to use. I sent a letter to Paul Wiedefeld in support of eliminating the Red Line Turnback at the Grosvenor-Strathmore station to ensure more reliable transit for our residents.
When I was Mayor of Gaithersburg, I worked with MARC to get them to run the noon train. Today, we need the MARC train to run all day to Frederick and beyond. Unfortunately, MARC has not been pursuing the idea of additional trains with urgency, but I will continue to engage with them on this. I support the Purple Line, which is now in development.
Improving our bus infrastructure is another transportation priority. We must continue to push for the implementation of bus rapid transit on 355, Route 29, and Viers Mill Road. The CCT is another important project, but the alignment must be changed. I’ve been meeting with stakeholders to develop a better alignment. I also supported the new Ride On Extra bus.
We also must keep in mind that autonomous cars are becoming a reality and we need to have them in the equation as part of our improvements. They will have a big impact on traffic, as well as how existing roads are used and how new roads are built. I will continue to work with MCDOT and other agencies to ensure autonomous cars are included in their long and short-term planning.
Jobs and the Economy:
I was a small business owner in Gaithersburg for many years, serving as the owner of Wolfson’s Department Store. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and as Mayor I made sure that Gaithersburg was open for business. I was proud that MedImunne selected Gaithersburg for its headquarters. I have been honored to “cut the ribbon” at many other businesses, some very small and some that are much larger.
It is of utmost importance that we continue to expand economic development in the County. I believe we need to continue the County’s toolbox of programs and office assistance programs. We also need to continue to work with the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) and other County agencies to make certain that we are being as welcoming and competitive as possible. I am proud that Montgomery County has proven once again that we are a great place to live, work, and do business. This could not be more evident than our selection as a top finalist for Amazon’s HQ2.
I’ve been advocating for – and will continue to advocate for – creating a task force consisting of small and large businesses to hear directly from them about the challenges they have faced in going through our processes to start and continue businesses here.
An important part of a healthy economy is making sure our workers earn a good wage. I worked closely with my colleagues on the County Council to develop the legislation that will raise the minimum wage to $15. We passed it unanimously. It was important to me that we raise wages for working families in the County, but that we do it in such a way that benefits the most and burdens the fewest.
Our seniors deserve a dignified retirement, and I’ve made issues affecting seniors a priority of mine during my first term on the County Council. First, I led the passage of senior tax deferral legislation. This legislation allows seniors to defer their property tax increase interest free and makes it easier for them to stay in their home. I also co-sponsored the Senior Tax Credit legislation that provides a property tax credit for seniors who either have lived in their home for at least 40 consecutive years, or are retired from one of the United States’ armed forces (a Military Retiree). Finally, I’ve hosted six senior forums across District 3 to help seniors better understand the many resources available to them.
I am very concerned about the amount debt that Montgomery County government has taken on. If debt service were a department, it would be the third largest department in the County. We need to have the right formula to change this trajectory, and I worked on this recently as the Council took up its annual spending affordability guidelines.