Thirty-three candidates are vying for four at-large seats on the Montgomery County Council in the June 26 Democratic Primary Election. Voters can vote for up to four people. Maryland Matters has compiled brief biographies of the candidates, taken a quick look at some of their priorities, noted endorsements that they have received and whether or not they are participating in the county’s first-ever public financing system for candidates.
Gabe Albornoz is the director of Montgomery County’s Recreation Department. He has served on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee and was the first Latino to serve as chairman. He has also served on the Collaboration Council for Children, Youth and Families; Positive Youth Development Initiative; Age Friendly Montgomery Advisory Group; and the county’s Economic Interests Committee.
Albornoz, of Kensington, says the some of the county’s most difficult challenges include its aging infrastructure; a widening achievement and opportunity gap among the county’s children; a stretched safety net struggling to keep pace with the needs of the more vulnerable residents; growing economic disparity among communities; traffic; and unmet housing needs. Albornoz is using Montgomery County’s public financing system for candidates.
Endorsements: The Washington Post, SEIU 500, Montgomery County Public Schools Retirees Association, Casa in Action, LGBTQ Democrats of Montgomery County, Apartment and Office Building Association, Jews United For Justice, SEIU Local 32BJ, Latino Democratic Club of Montgomery and the Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats.
Rosemary O. Arkoian Rosemary Arkoian came to the area in September 1962 to work at National Security Agency at Fort Meade as a Russian linguist and intelligence research analyst. She has volunteered at several Montgomery County schools for about 18 years. Arkoian received a paralegal studies certificate from Montgomery College, and spent two terms on the Montgomery College Alumni Board of Governors.
The Gaithersburg resident says the county must find solutions to traffic congestion, including roads for the Upcounty such as the M-83 Mid-County Corridor Extended, fixing Interstate 270, constructing bicycle paths and increasing Metro ridership. She believes the county should hire competent and caring teachers and close the achievement gap by bringing magnet and choice programs to the Upcounty. She wants to encourage community policing efforts by increasing participation in the Citizens’ Police Academy; encourage adults to gain useful job skills by enrolling at Montgomery College; expand the county’s mental health courts; and streamline the requirements for businesses to get established. Arkoian is using Montgomery County’s public financing system for candidates. Marilyn Balcombe For the past 25 years, Marilyn Balcombe has worked for civic organizations, county government and numerous non-profits. She is currently president and CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce. Balcombe was part of the team that built and opened BlackRock Center for the Arts, creating an arts and humanities presence in the Upcounty. She also championed building the Germantown Library and the Germantown Town Center Park. She has experience in accounting, finance, budgets, organizational management, human resource management, economic development and organizational development. The Germantown resident supports expanding access to early education to reduce the achievement gap. Her priorities: create jobs and expand the county’s tax base by attracting new companies and helping existing businesses grow; reduce traffic and build the county’s infrastructure with more efficient travel options and smart strategic planning, while protecting the environment; and increase affordable housing while maintaining the unique qualities of the county’s neighborhoods and reduce barriers for first-time home buyers. Balcombe is not using public financing.
Endorsements: The Washington Post, Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors, Montgomery County Public Schools Retirees Association, Associated Builders and Contractors of Metro Washington, Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington. Charles Barkley Charles Barkley is a former teacher and member of the Maryland House of Delegates. After graduating from college, he took his first teaching job with Montgomery County Public Schools, where he would spend 30 years in the profession. He was elected state delegate from District 39 in 1998.
Barkley, of Germantown, says his experience in the schools would help the council form good working relationships with the school board and engage teachers, parents and students. Priorities include keeping class sizes small, working to ensure the schools grow along with the community, making the prekindergarten program countywide and developing a plan to make community college more affordable. He believes the county needs to invest more in the bus rapid transit, Corridor Cities Transit and MARC trains; address I-270 gridlock; widen Norbeck Road and routes 355 and 27; continue to improve Metro; and make sure the Purple Line is built. Barkley is not using public financing. Shruti Bhatnagar Shruti Bhatnagar has been a resident of Montgomery County for 18 years. She has served the community for the past 15-plus years, beginning with the Kensington Heights Civic Association in her neighborhood. She has worked at the American Red Cross, at a private Montessori school and at Montgomery County Public Schools providing academic support to students.
Bhatnagar wants to make sure that all county families have access to resources that will allow students to have opportunities to succeed and wants to continue to work for equity benefits for the community. Bhatnagar says the county needs to ease the congestion on I-270 and I-495 by offering accessible and affordable alternatives. She supports the Purple Line and says the county must ensure steady investment in infrastructure and have public transit options for its communities, including safe routes for bike riders. She says she will strive to address the concerns of local businesses while ensuring that, no matter what a person’s job is, they are paid a minimum wage that sustains their needs and allows them to make financial progress. Bhatnagar entered Montgomery County’s public financing system for candidates, but did not qualify for matching funds. Cherri L. Branson Cherri Branson has lived in Montgomery County for the past 29 years. Branson is the director of the Montgomery County Office of Procurement. She was appointed to serve as an interim county council member from January to December 2014, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Valerie Ervin representing District 5 (Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Burtonsville, Hillandale and White Oak). For seven years prior to her term on the council, Branson was chief counsel for oversight for the House Committee on Homeland Security. She developed an oversight agenda that focused on contracting within the Department of Homeland Security. As senior investigative counsel for the same committee, she conducted several investigations into contracting and procurement problems that arose in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Branson wrote the statutory language contained in the Omnibus Consolidation and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 1999, October 1998, which eliminated the government’s reliance on the statute of limitations defense in a discrimination lawsuit involving African-American farmers. Branson is not using public financing. Brandy H.M. Brooks Brooks has served in leadership roles at non-profits. A community activist, her work has focused on building collaborative and sustainable food systems, and training organizers and community leaders.
Brooks supports the $15 minimum wage and equal pay and sick leave for workers. She wants to expand the number of Montgomery Parks community gardens available to residents to meet the high demand for urban growing space and support cottage food entrepreneurs so people who want to make safe food products in their homes can sell them at farmers markets. The Wheaton resident supports completion of the Route 29 Bus Rapid Transit, dedicated funding for Metro, the Purple Line and transit investments in all areas of the county. Brooks is using public financing.
Endorsements: Our Revolution Maryland, Our Revolution Montgomery County, Montgomery County National Organization for Women PAC, 32BJ SEIU, Jews United for Justice Campaign Fund, DSA National, National Nurses Organizing Committee, Progressive Neighbors, the American Women’s Party, Municipal and County Government Employee Organization, CASA in Action, Montgomery County Education Association, Progressive Maryland, Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America and Metro Washington AFL-CIO. Craig Carozza-Caviness Carozza-Caviness, of Montgomery Village, is an insurance consultant, real estate agent, and musician and songwriter who performs under the name “Incwell.” His community service includes work with Habitat for Humanity, Mary House, Kids Enjoy Exercise Now, serving at local soup kitchens, and teaching music and creative writing in an after-school program underprivileged youth.
Among his priorities are art and music programs in all schools, providing funding to create art and culture programs for students, creating opportunities for local artists, providing better wages for teachers, improving overcrowded and underfunded facilities, boosting after-school programs for low-income children and families, universal pre-K, and hiring more student resources officers in schools. He also supports the Corridor Cities Transitway, the Purple Line, bus rapid transit, creating bike share programs and building protected bike lanes. Carozza-Caviness is using public financing. Ron Colbert Colbert is a vice president at MELE Associates, a federal contracting company with headquarters in Rockville. He is retired from Safeway stores after 30 years of service and spent 18 years at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School as director of technology. He is a lifelong Montgomery County resident, growing up in Wheaton. He and his wife Linda raised their family in Silver Spring and Rockville and moved to Damascus about 12 years ago. Colbert is not using public financing. Bill Conway Conway is a lawyer and community activist. He has lived in Montgomery County for more than 30 years. He served as minority counsel and then senior counsel to the Democratic members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. He originated and drafted Title VII of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which broke the utility monopoly on electric generation and created the framework of wholesale market competition that remains in place today. He is an expert in the electric power industry. In 2007 and 2008, Conway was a member of President Obama’s Mid-Atlantic Finance Committee.
Conway, of Potomac, supports establishing affordable early day care and universal pre-kindergarten, and minimum wage increases whose timing and scope are structured to raise family incomes without harming small businesses. He believes the county should put more focus on intersection improvements and more sophisticated traffic light management, and that accurate measurements and projections of road and intersection congestion should be required before decisions to allow increases in density. He supports Bus Rapid Transit along Route 29 and Rockville Pike and streamlining regulatory requirements for business. Conway wants to encourage job growth in the eastern county through projects such as the White Oak Science Gateway. Conway is using public financing.
Endorsements: Montgomery County Green Democrats, D-1 Neighbors, Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats, Brickyard Coalition. Hoan Dang Hoan Dang is a community organizer and activist. He served on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee from 2010-14 and served as chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party’s Asian American & Pacific Islander Leadership Council from 2014-17. Dang is also a founding board member of the Asian American Political Alliance.
The Silver Spring resident supports reworking the county program that requires developers to create affordable housing as a condition of completing their projects; requiring smaller development projects to pay into a housing fund; leasing vacant commercial office space and re-purpose it into classrooms; creating magnet programs and vocational/technical programs to reduce the cost of school construction; combining new school construction with recreation centers, community centers and senior centers to reduce the overall cost of new constructions; closing the Dickerson Waste Incinerator plant; expanding the county’s recycling and composting programs to reduce landfill waste; and adding reversible toll lanes and bus rapid transit to I-270. Dang is using public financing.
Endorsements: Montgomery County Public Schools Retirees Association, Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats, Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors, D-1 Neighbors, Association of Black Democrats of Montgomery County. Tom R. Falcinelli Jr.
An attorney in Rockville, Falcinelli was a candidate for Montgomery County sheriff in 2010. Falcinelli is not using public financing. Lorna Phillips Forde Lorna Phillips Forde is a 30-year county resident and small business owner. She operates a missions and leisure travel company and is the current president of the Montgomery County Commission for Women, a gubernatorial appointee to the Maryland Commission for Women and a board member of the Jewish Council for the Aging.
The Olney resident’s priorities include making affordable housing available and accessible for all residents; making quality, affordable childcare available for families; focusing resources on police/community engagement, diversity and use-of-force training; ensuring quality mental health care for residents and destigmatizing mental illness; creating a 10-year plan for Metro funding and supports Bus Rapid Transit on Route 29 and Rockville Pike; reducing and keeping class size at reasonable, manageable levels; offering better pay for teachers; increasing parent engagement; and creating initiatives to improve school climate and safety. Forde is using public financing.
Endorsement: Montgomery County National Organization of Women. Jill Ortman-Fouse Ortman-Fouse, of Silver Spring, is the at-large member of the Montgomery County Board of Education. She serves as chairwoman of the board’s Strategic Planning Committee and a member of the Policy Management Committee. She also serves as the board’s legislative delegate to the Maryland Association of Boards of Education and chairwoman of MABE’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Every Student Succeeds Act. She also is a member of the Montgomery County Collaboration Council’s Disproportionate Minority Contact Reduction Committee and Montgomery County’s Children Fleeing Violence from Central America Work Group.
Since she was elected in 2014, Ortman-Fouse says she has worked to strengthen educational opportunities for county students. She supports universal pre-K, and has talked extensively about the consequences of 55,000 of the school district’s students are living in poverty. Some of her priorities include creating parks, increasing solar usage, supporting the county’s Bicycle Master Plan and dedicated Metro funding. She would like the county to increase its focus on workforce development and wants the county government to become more sustainable — both at government facilities and with its broader policy proposals. Ortman-Fouse is using public financing.
Endorsements: Progressive Neighbors, Latino Democratic Club of Montgomery County and Brickyard Coalition. Loretta Jean Garcia Garcia is the head of the anti-discrimination unit for Montgomery County government. She is a lawyer, mediator and social justice activist. The Bethesda resident is a member of the Washington, D.C., bar, the D.C. Women’s Bar Association and the Hispanic bar associations in the District and Maryland. She serves on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.
Garcia supports an increase in the minimum hourly wage to $15, a reduction by 50 percent in the level of greenhouse emissions, universal health care and student loan relief. She believes housing and affordability need to be among the mix of considerations because the county’s population has outstripped the county’s housing supply. She would support an array of transit options, including walkable neighborhoods, bike paths/lanes, rapid bus transit, dedicated funding for Metro and building out public transportation along the major corridors. Garcia did not qualify for matching funds. Paul S. Geller Geller, of Rockville, a staffer in the office of former U.S. Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) and former newspaper advertising coordinator, was a former president of the Montgomery County Council of PTAs and an MCCPTA cluster coordinator.
His priorities are transportation, the economy and education. He believes the county needs to improve its traffic signaling and look at plans for Bus Rapid Transit, Metro upgrades, Ride On buses, bicycle lanes, dockless Bikeshare and creating walkable communities. He wants the county to attract world-class businesses that will offer high-paying jobs. He also would like to see the county council foster an environment of growth for existing and established businesses as well. As a leader in the county PTA who understands how things work in MCPS, he believes he can work with others to make needed improvements. Tops on his list: smarter, faster, cheaper capital improvement projects. Geller did not qualify for matching funds. Evan Glass Evan Glass, a former CNN journalist, is the executive director of the Gandhi Brigade Youth Media where he has expanded its free after-school programs and services. He helped form the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association, where he advocated for new infrastructure and pedestrian safety initiatives during his six years as president. He helped establish Conservation Montgomery, where he fought for passage of environmental regulations that protect the tree canopy and expand green spaces. He also served as vice president of the board of Montgomery Housing Partnership.
Among his top priorities: infrastructure investments coupled with professional development for teachers; raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour; expanding the concentration of job growth to the East County and Upcounty;
strengthening public transportation options; increasing the supply of affordable housing; creating an LGBTQ community center; and empowering local agencies and non-profits to continue supporting immigrant communities. Glass is using public financing.
Endorsements: Sierra Club, The Washington Post, National Organization for Women, Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats of Maryland, Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors, NARAL Victory Fund, LGBTQ Democrats of Montgomery County, Brickyard Coalition, D-1 Neighbors. Richard Gottfried Gottfried, a former teacher, is an accountant who owns his own small business. Even while growing his business, he continued to teach and found the time to play sports, organizing recreational tennis teams. Since 2008, Gottfried has been a top-ten league director for World Team Tennis. He is serving his second term as president of the Twinbrook Citizens Association.
He says creating and managing a $5.5 billion budget is hard work, and that the county needs to get smart fast about its finances, and that is why he got into the race. The tax burden on property owners continues to increase, while services are forced to decrease and that can’t continue, he says. Gottfried is using public financing. Neil H. Greenberger Greenberger is the former legislative information officer for the Montgomery Council. He also worked as the public information officer for the city of Rockville, worked in the Community Outreach Office of the Maryland State Board of Education and the office of former State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick, and spent his early career as a writer and editor for The Washington Post. His personal commitments include helping people with developmental disabilities, including years as a volunteer for the ARC of Montgomery County. He is an advocate for Montgomery County’s program that created its unique Agricultural Reserve.
Greenberger, of Damascus, vows to never vote to approve a property tax increase if elected, and he would like to see the county end its energy tax and bag tax. He believes speed cameras around schools and in certain areas have been placed in unfair locations simply to raise income; magnet and rigorous study programs should be directed to schools that are easily accessible to all parts of the county; and that high-density developers should be required to submit plans to meet school needs, adequate parking and road improvements that meet the reality of the developments. Greenberger did not qualify for matching funds. Seth Grimes Grimes is a former Takoma Park City Council member who notes among his accomplishments while on the council: banning cosmetic lawncare pesticide use, enacting 16-year-old voting and voting rights for ex-felons, banning polystyrene food service ware and expanding recycling. He led efforts to: promote right-size local development, expand library and community services, create a public food-waste composting program and promote environmental sustainability.
His goals will be to advance school quality, transportation options, affordable housing, economic opportunity, child care availability and environmentalism with a special focus on equity, effective government and support for those with the greatest needs. He wants housing, retail and office development linked to transit, school and infrastructure build-out to preserve greenspace, trees and parks. He wants to focus on business and job growth, access to quality education, protection of immigrant and policies that foster community entrepreneurship. Grimes is using public financing. Endorsement: Montgomery County Chapter of The Climate Mobilization. Ashwani JainAshwani Jain, a former appointee with the Obama-Biden administration, ran grassroots campaigns and programs to help organize Montgomery County. He worked to help residents enroll in health coverage when he worked at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A cancer survivor, he worked with Vice President Joseph R. Biden to execute the 50-state Cancer Moonshot Summit. He is a volunteer wish ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic.
Among the Potomac resident’s priorities: closing the opportunity gap that students face; universal pre-K; ensuring students have access to STEM education; creating policies that foster greater trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities; creating enterprise zones throughout the county; streamlining the business permitting process; encouraging the use of vacant office space to create more shared working spaces; supporting smart growth that favors mixed-use development and creates inclusive communities with access to affordable housing; supporting the Purple Line, BRT and creating more protected bike lanes and sidewalks; expanding I-270, investing in the CCT, as well as a limited expansion of roadways like M-83; reducing greenhouse gases; and expanding the American Legion Bridge. Jain is not using public financing.
Endorsements: SEIU 500, Naral Pro-Choice Maryland PAC, LBGTQ Democrats of Montgomery County, Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats of Maryland, The Impact Fund, Run for Something, Opportunity First and Desis for Progress, American Possibilities PAC. Will JawandoJawando, of Silver Spring, is an attorney. During the Obama administration, Jawando served as associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, followed by a position as an adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Among his priorities: expand access for immigrants to county programs; institute smarter land-use decisions; enhance regional public transportation systems; engage underrepresented communities in the environmental movement; encourage sustainable growth of the county economy by increasing the county’s technical-trained workforce, supporting small business and developing county-rooted industries that are major employers; support paid family- and sick-leave policies and affordable, accessible child care and early childhood education programs; close opportunity and achievement gaps, reduce class size, expand career and technical education, and invest in services that help students before and after school; invest in the Purple Line and the BRT, encourage development around transit hubs, and find the state-of-the-art traffic management, pedestrian and bicycle systems to help reduce congestion. Jawando is using public financing.
Endorsements: Montgomery County Education Association, Sierra Club, SEIU 500, Casa in Action, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Progressive, Municipal and County Government Employee Organization, Montgomery County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35 and Montgomery County Chapter of The Climate Mobilization. David V. Lipscomb Among the Gaithersburg resident’s priorities: seek new and environmental friendly solutions to reduce traffic and promote public transportation use; invest in students and schools; make sure public education institutions not only serve as the main source of literacy knowledge, but also as an oasis away from the hardships of day-to-day life; find stable and new methods to decrease the cost of maintenance; reduce the carbon footprint in every way, shape or form possible; bring the county to the forefront of clean living; and fight injustice everywhere. Lipscomb is not using public financing. Melissa McKenna McKenna, of Rockville, has served in various positions with the Montgomery County Council of PTAs.
She has made the focus of her campaign education, opportunity and livability. Her priorities include: improving education for all and smarter funding of construction projects; providing quality training and ongoing support for teachers; doing more to enhance economic, educational and housing opportunities; addressing key issues such as affordable housing (especially for teachers, public safety personnel, and seniors); enhanced transportation and greater infrastructure improvements. McKenna is using public financing. Danielle Meitiv Meitiv is known as the “Free Range Mom” after the police detained her children for walking home from the park without an adult. The Silver Spring resident has worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, World Bank, Clean Air Task Force and the Environmental Defense Fund, making climate science accessible and relevant to policymakers.
The Silver Spring resident believes Montgomery County should invest in the small- and medium-sized businesses that create jobs and support local communities. She supports a $15-per-hour minimum wage. Meitiv is using public financing.
Endorsements: National Nurses United, Progressive Neighbors, Montgomery County Green Democrats, Progressive Maryland, Sierra Club, Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America, Montgomery County Chapter of The Climate Mobilization, 314 Action, Metro Washington AFL-CIO, Our Revolution Maryland, Our Revolution Montgomery County, Greater Greater Washington, D-1 Neighbors. Hans RiemerRiemer serves as an at-large member of the Montgomery County Council, where he serves as the lead for digital government as well as on the Committees for Planning, Housing, and Economic Development and Government Operations & Fiscal Policy. The Takoma Park resident previously served as a senior adviser for AARP and national youth vote director for President Obama.
Among the Takoma Park resident’s priorities: creating urban areas that provide a marvelous quality of life for residents while directing development where the county has the best infrastructure and smallest environmental impact; fighting for better education by reducing class size and expanding school construction to meet growing enrollment; protecting the climate with smart growth, clean energy, tree canopy and anti-litter reforms; boosting child care, after-school programs and early childhood services, particularly for lower income families; leading the push to support walking, biking and public transportation; and creating economic opportunities by supporting cybersecurity, biotech and STEM job sectors. Riemer is using public financing.
Endorsements: The Washington Post, Sierra Club, Casa in Action, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Apartment and Office Building Association and Montgomery County Public Schools Retirees Association, Association of Black Democrats of Montgomery County, The Coalition for Equitable Representation in Government, Greater Greater Washington, Jews United for Justice, LGBTQ Democrats of Montgomery County, Montgomery County Chapter of the National Organization of Women PAC, Montgomery County Education Association, Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Rescue Association, SEIU Local 500, SEIU 32BJ. Michele RileyRiley, a certified public accountant, has worked as an intellectual property consultant for 20 years, with 10 of those years as a business owner. The Silver Spring resident was a commissioned officer in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Corps, conducting scientific research. She served as president of the Woodmoor-Pinecrest Citizens Association and was a member of the Bus Rapid Transit US 29 South Corridor Citizens Advisory Committee.
Among her priorities: achieving the economic growth the county needs to replace tax revenue the county is losing as Baby Boomers retire; making the county more business friendly by eliminating unnecessary regulations; increasing accountability in government; giving power back to the people on planning issues; and returning funding to the Office of the People’s Counsel. Riley did not qualify for matching funds. Graciela Rivera-Oven Rivera-Oven has worked with the League of Women Voters, United Way, PTA, Interfaith Works and the Montgomery County Board of Elections. The Germantown resident says the challenges facing the county include gaps in educational achievement and income, growing a revenue base in an equitable manner and upgrading an overburdened transportation infrastructure. She supports universal pre-K, free tuition at Montgomery College for county high school graduates, more resources for mental health programs for youth and families; improving economic opportunities for small businesses; a $15 minimum wage by 2020; and the Corridor Cities Transitway, the Purple Line and dedicated funding for Metro. Rivera-Owen is not using public financing.
Endorsement: Latino Democratic Club of Montgomery County. Darwin Romero Among Romero’s priorities: supporting programs and initiatives that offer career pathways to youth; reducing government red tape, streamlining the startup and procurement process, and providing access to capital and business resources; providing the framework to support the unemployed or those looking to transition into other careers; investing in infrastructure and making technological enhancements to improve the overall quality of life; identifying bottleneck areas and accident-prone intersections and fixing them; supporting the Purple Line and other initiatives that decrease gridlock, carbon footprint and traffic delays; assuring that those who profit from growth contribute their fair share to improving the transportation system and providing ample public spaces such as parks, schools and recreational centers; increasing mass transit options; encouraging telecommuting; and requiring employers to hire Montgomery County residents first. Romero is using public financing. Mohammad Siddique Siddique, a former consultant with the Department of Energy, has served as deputy director of special projects in the county’s Department of Transportation. He represented the county in the Implementation Committee for Base Relocation and Consolidation evaluating the impact of BRAC on Walter Reed Military Hospital.
Among the Montgomery Village resident’s priorities: tighter monitoring of budgets and schedules wherever and however tax dollars are used; tabling any proposal to raise taxes until waste is controlled and loopholes blocked; creating tax incentives to encourage job creation; supporting the growth of high-tech, high-wage, science-based jobs; advocating for the state to allocate resources for school construction and providing resources to achieve a smaller class size; and providing more resources for gang busting and continued police vigilance; and increasing the minimum wage. Siddique is using public financing.
Endorsement: Montgomery County Muslim Council. Jarrett SmithSmith, a Takoma Park City Council member, serves as president of the Maryland Municipal League’s Montgomery County chapter and on the National League of Cities, Transportation Infrastructure Services Committee.
His priority focus remains on voter and civic engagement, fiscal responsibility, education, green communities, affordable housing and accessible transportation. He spearheaded a college-bound program and introduced the first state law mandating the use of recyclable bags. He believes affordable housing with accessible transportation and employment are key links for Montgomery County’s smart growth. Smith is not using public financing. Steve Solomon Solomon is a talk radio producer and host. The Rockville resident says his priorities include: streamlining road construction projects; creating incentives and tax credits to get businesses and companies to allow more telecommuting; providing better compensation and better equipment for the county’s first responders; supporting local libraries; increasing the number of archery hunts to get rid of the deer; increasing the budget for county animal shelters; installing better street lighting; restoring the private school bus program; continuing support for services for senior citizens; and supporting technical and vocational training programs. Solomon is not using public financing. Chris Wilhelm Wilhelm is an ESOL teacher at Northwood High School and a progressive policy advocate. The Chevy Chase resident worked for IMPACT Silver Spring, where he ran sports programs for immigrant youth and families. Among his priorities: fighting to fund new school construction, reducing class sizes and removing lead from schools’ drinking water; creating an independent inspector general for the public schools to oversee contracting, investigating cases of abuse and sexual harassment, and bringing accountability to MCPS administrative practices; increasing funding for school staffing, facilities and training; expanding access to Montgomery College; supporting dedicated funding for Metro and pushing for expanded late-night and weekend service and opposing any expansion of I-495; closing the Dickerson incinerator; establishing a zero-waste plan that encourages composting and increased recycling; and expanding the county’s bus system and fight to transition to a fleet of fully electric buses. Wilhelm is using public financing. Endorsements: Montgomery County Education Association, Montgomery County Green Democrats, Laborers’ International Union of North America, Progressive Maryland, Municipal and County Government Employee Organization, Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America, Progressive Neighbors, National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United, DSA National, Jews United for Justice, Montgomery County Chapter of The Climate Mobilizationand Metro Washington AFL-CIO.