County Council President Evan Glass (D-At-large) said some of his top legislative priorities for the upcoming year include more funding to address homelessness and affordable housing, increasing public transportation, addressing climate change, and creating more mental health support to help residents countywide.
In a news briefing with reporters on Monday, Glass repeated a data point he shares publicly about public transportation — that the average household income is $108,000, but that the average bus rider makes $35,000.
“I think one of the best places to meet people is at the bus stop, because without access to good safe, reliable transportation, people are literally stuck where they are,” Glass said. “They’re not getting the educational opportunities, they’re not getting the employment opportunities, and so we need to do right by them to make sure people can travel throughout our region.”
Glass said a lot of his priorities, from a budget perspective, will depend on what County Executive Marc Elrich (D) proposes next year. Elrich has traveled around the county in recent weeks, holding budget town halls in various communities.
One area that Glass said needs more investment is mental health services countywide, and the need to hire more social service workers to help people who are in distress, before serious crimes are committed. He added that county officials need to work to hire more police officers, and that recent efforts like property tax credits for first responders and pay raises for officers, will hopefully help.
In response to criticism by some that it’s been difficult to hire police officers because of the legislative changes and other reforms made to the county’s police force, Glass responded that the issue is not unique to Montgomery County or the Washington, D.C. region.
“This is a national situation,” Glass said. “And so anybody who would criticize a particular piece of legislation or policy that has been adopted here, I think is losing sight that this is a national issue.”