Montgomery County has offered some of the best schools in the nation for many years. Yet we can – and must - do better. We need to address the widespread feeling among many parents that our children attend schools that are overcrowded and underperforming.
Investing in our schools
We need to increase the capital improvements budget to pay for new school construction while also modernizing existing schools. We also need to work with our state legislators to bring more school funding back to Montgomery County so that we can build more schools that include environmentally friendly designs and lessen dependence on portable classrooms.
Montgomery College is a vital education institution for our county. We need to ensure that Montgomery College receives the resources it needs to provide quality higher education at affordable costs.
Infrastructure investments need to be coupled with continuous professional development for teachers so we can attract and retain the best teachers.
Closing the achievement gap
Closing the achievement gap is a core social justice issue. The gap is clearly rooted in socioeconomic differences between Montgomery County’s diverse communities. This is why I support raising the minimum wage and expanding social services that protect children outside the classroom.
Pre-K and After School Programming
Building new schools is only part of the solution to creating a better environment for learning. Research shows that educational gaps are more difficult and costly to close as children grow older. That is why any approach to closing the achievement gap must include early childhood education in addition to after-school programming. High quality pre-kindergarten programs are proven strategies that promote school readiness while easing financial burdens on parents.
Expanding our tree canopy
We greatly value our parks, streams, hiking trails and agricultural reserve in Montgomery County. We also value our trees and the comforting and environmentally sustainable canopy they provide. Working with Conservation Montgomery, the county’s leading coalition of civic and environmental leaders, I worked to pass two bills that protect our tree canopy threatened by development. The purpose of the legislation is to safeguard and restore these valuable resources, especially in older and more urban parts of the county.
During my tenure as chair of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board, I proposed the creation of more green space in downtown Silver Spring and other urban areas, rather than creating a concrete jungle for future generations. New development should not be allowed to include concrete “pocket parks” that provide little value. Instead, developers should be required to create usable green space for residents or contribute to an amenities fund so that land can be acquired to build suitable green space. All new development should meet high environmental standards and maximize use of renewable energy resources.
Montgomery County is a wonderful place to live, but too many of our neighbors and county employees are unable to keep up with our ever-increasing cost of housing. We need to ensure that current homeowners and renters as well as future generations can afford to live in the county we all call home.
Increasing affordable home supply
As Vice Chair of Montgomery Housing Partnership’s board of directors - the county’s largest nonprofit builder of affordable housing - I have been working for several years to increase the supply of affordable homes in Montgomery County and expand the organization’s social services to residents and nonresidents. It’s no secret that the county will need significantly more housing over the next decade for families making less than $100,000 a year. In collaboration with Casa de Maryland and other locally focused nonprofits, I have sought to preserve affordable housing in neighborhoods affected by redevelopment.
Traffic in the D.C. region is consistently ranked among the worst in the nation. We have not done enough to connect our county’s rapid growth to needed investments in improved infrastructure and innovative transportation options.
Strengthening public transportation options
We need to work more closely with surrounding jurisdictions to ensure the long-term viability of Metrorail. Metrorail and bus - when working properly - serve the needs of many in our community. But by themselves, they haven’t dented our consistent congestion. We need to increase our support for public transportation solutions like Bus Rapid Transit and MARC Rail so that they become convenient and cost-effective options. When it is built, the Purple Line will help decrease traffic delays while connecting more communities to the economic engines of Bethesda and Silver Spring. I will work to ensure that the Purple Line has the proper oversight to minimize any negative community impact.
Investments in our County’s thriving bicycle culture should also include building bike lanes that protect both riders and drivers.
JOB CREATION &
Creating sustainable economic growth in Montgomery County is a top priority. We need to find ways to expand prosperity to all parts of the county.
Expanding the tax base
Instead of the usual kneejerk reaction -- increasing property taxes -- we need to find creative ways to attract new jobs to the county while supporting our existing businesses. More jobs and a stronger small business community will result in a larger tax base that will support the necessary growth in infrastructure, roads, affordable housing, and highest-quality public education.
Investing in job centers
We need to expand the concentration of job growth to the East County and Upcounty so that people live closer to where they work. This will not only provide additional tax revenue, but it will shorten commuting times for individuals, thereby easing traffic and improving the environment.
Increasing the minimum wage
The growing income disparity within the County is a serious and challenging issue. We need to raise the minimum wage to $15 so that an honest day’s work results in an honest day’s pay.
All Montgomery County residents deserve the right to lead healthy lives. They should have access to high-quality health care regardless of income level or immigration status. An estimated 60,000 Montgomery County residents are uninsured, yet many of them have very low income and are not eligible for Medicaid or a subsidized health plan.
Responding to a national threat
Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is under constant threat of repeal or reduction, we need to increase our commitment to funding essential programs like Montgomery Cares, which provides health care to uninsured adults in Montgomery County. Programs like Care for Kids also play a vital role in providing primary and preventive care to low-income families from birth to age 19. I am committed to supporting these community-based systems, which offer health equity for underserved community members through public-private collaborations.
One of Montgomery County’s greatest strengths is its amazingly diverse immigrant community. Our county must remain a welcoming place for all residents regardless of immigration status.
Protecting our immigrant communities
Even though Montgomery County is not technically a “sanctuary” jurisdiction, we need to empower our local agencies to continue their policy of not going after residents based on their status as U.S. citizens. Local law enforcement agencies should not investigate, arrest or prosecute undocumented immigrants for crimes that have nothing to do with their immigration status.
LGBTQ COMMUNITY SUPPORT
With hateful rhetoric and threats against minorities on the rise, we need to find creative ways to empower and protect these communities in Montgomery County. As a married, gay, Jewish man, I understand first hand the importance of creating an environment in which all people can be healthy, equal and accepted members of society.
Dedicated LGBTQ Services
Montgomery County is one of the most progressive jurisdictions in Maryland, yet it is the only county in the state that does not have an LGBTQ community center. We need social service programs and shelters that protect homeless youth who were thrown out of their homes due to their sexual and gender identity. Our LGBTQ seniors represent a population with unique health, housing and social needs. This is why I support programs that bolster health and wellness, recovery, wellness, parenthood and family support for the LGBTQ community.