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Guest Commentary: Experienced Leadership Will Move Montgomery Co. Forward

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series. More than 20 candidates are running for four at-large seats on the Montgomery County Council in 2018 – and the number could grow. In an attempt to sort through the confusion and enlighten voters, Maryland Matters has asked the candidates to submit an op-ed piece introducing themselves and making their case. Subsequent articles will appear over the next several weeks.

By Charles Barkley

I have spent the past 20 years helping to build a more forward-thinking Montgomery County – where our children have access to a great education, seniors can live in safe, affordable housing and everyone has the opportunity to achieve more. I’m running for Montgomery County Council at-large because experience matters when it comes to accomplishing our goals.

When I was growing up, my family didn’t have much, but my mother was determined to give us a good home and prepare us to achieve all that we could. Like many single mothers, she struggled to make ends meet. She worked two jobs and made sacrifices every day to make sure my three brothers and I had a safe and loving home. It was from her that I learned the values that carry me through to this day: work hard, listen to people and care for others.

Charles Barkley

Del. Charlie Barkley

The values my mom instilled in me and the dedication of a few special teachers inspired me to go to college with a purpose: to make a difference by becoming a teacher. After graduating, I took my first teaching job with Montgomery County Public Schools, where I would go on to spend my entire 30-year career. I have always believed that you should not wait for someone else to fix a problem if you can step up and be a part of the solution. That is why I became a leader in my school, accepting the responsibility of being a department head and serving on the board of the Montgomery County Education Association.

My teaching career took me to schools all over Montgomery County from Takoma Park Jr. High, Belt Jr. High in Wheaton, Tilden Middle School in Bethesda, Gaithersburg Middle School and Wood Middle School in Rockville. I have seen the range of issues our schools face. I know that some of our neighbors have the resources to ensure our children are provided every enrichment activity outside of the classroom, while many others struggle. It is that dichotomy, which isn’t unique to Montgomery County but more pronounced here, that presents challenges for our county. We must meet those challenges because I believe every child comes to school with the right to a great education.

Building off of my union and classroom work, I ran for the House of Delegates and have spent the past 20 years in the Maryland General Assembly. As a delegate, I have tried every day to live up to the responsibility entrusted to me by the voters of the county. I pride myself on working with others, asking challenging questions and not just going along with the group. I’m an independent voice and take seriously my duty to do what I believe is best for the people I represent. As my colleagues will tell you, I often stand up and speak on the floor, even when it is inconvenient for leadership, especially on issues affecting Montgomery County and public education.

I am proud of the progress we have made in Montgomery County during my time as a state delegate. However, I know we have more to accomplish. I am running for county council because we need experienced leadership to continue moving us forward. I want to focus on improving what is happening here at home and work with local leaders to achieve all that is possible.

Del. Charles Barkley of Germantown, a Democrat, is running for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council. He can be reached at [email protected]