I commend Dan Reed and Carter Doherty for their honesty and common-sense evaluation of the county executive’s lack of leadership and inability to deal with the current major challenges facing Montgomery County (“Opinion: Montgomery County needs an executive who can take on big problems,” Feb. 12, 2022).
Unfortunately, the leadership vacuum extends to the County Council, as well, and the combination has had dire consequences for Montgomery County’s future.
Montgomery County’s political community — both the legislative and executive branches — lacks a common strategy, vision, and plan to address the challenges of the county’s 1.1 million people in today’s ever-changing environment.
While many of the politicians identify as “progressive,” their lack of common vision leads to legislation that conflicts with itself, is void of real-world data, and results in no “progress” at all.
Racial economic equity is a cornerstone of County Council economic and growth policy. The County Council approved the $3 billion Viva White Oak project in 2014, but no new legislative initiative to boost job growth in East County has been adopted since.
The White Flint plan focus is a future nonprofit research university built on non-county property (it belongs to Metro), which adds zero to the tax base for the county. How is this progress toward our racial economic equity goals for East County?
Meeting affordable housing goals is a county priority, but the council’s actions hinder those businesses working to develop and maintain affordable housing.
The council has implemented a COVID-19 rent freeze for all of the more than 100,000 county apartments, when only 9,281 households have been approved for COVID-19 rental assistance. (see p. 1 of Montgomery County Council memo from Feb. 8.)
It has mandated extreme maintenance guidelines, enforced with a monthly county inspection.
It is proposing new Building Energy Performance Standards requiring substantial mechanical and electrical capital expenditures at the property owners’ expense while expecting there will be no increases in rent on people and businesses.
How does this burden on county businesses support increased housing supply and construction in the county?
Supporting small and minority-owned businesses is part of the Council Economic Development Platform, but the county executive vetoed County Council legislation to create a Business Improvement District in downtown Silver Spring.
Such districts have proven successful in assisting small and minority businesses to market themselves and create place awareness, as well as increase safety and community involvement. Where is the common vision?
How do the executive branch and County Council reconcile their conflicting agendas? “Policy by virtue” is creating a disconnect, trading hard problem-solving legislation for progressive campaign sound bites. Montgomery County citizens are the ones who suffer.
This year’s Montgomery County Council election will have six seats with no incumbent and five seats with incumbents running for re-election. The county executive seat also is in play this year.
Since the county is heavily Democratic, all leadership decisions will be made by those voting in the Democratic primary on June 28. Early voting is June 16 to 23. Vote for change.
Charles K. Nulsen III is the owner of Washington Property Company, a family-owned development and management firm headquartered in Bethesda. He co-founded Empower Montgomery, a business advocacy and issues group. He said he is not working for any campaign, but has donated money to various candidates who support business in Montgomery County.
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