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Montgomery County Council At-Large (four seats)

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REPUBLICAN

Robert Dyer

• Where you live: Bethesda

• Date of birth: 46 years old

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Founder and publisher of Suburban News Network

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Elected to Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, District 16 (2006-10). Candidate for state delegate, District 16 (2006). Candidate for Montgomery County Council at-large (2010, 2014).

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I’m running because our developer-controlled County Council and Planning Board no longer listen to their constituents’ concerns about planning, traffic congestion and school overcrowding. Murders are up 31%, while graduation rates are down. Schools are declining, and gang violence is out of control. We haven’t attracted a single major corporate HQ to the county in two decades, and we have the lowest new business growth in the region.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

We must reform our planning process to protect existing residential neighborhoods, while firmly tying new development to the infrastructure needed to support it.

I’d restore the Office of the People’s Counsel, to represent residents’ interests in land-use decisions. I’d bring back resident committees to oversee sector plan rewrites, instead of the developer-friendly “charrette” process.

Developers must pay more for schools and transportation. The next Council will vote on sector plans for Aspen Hill, Gaithersburg East, Forest Glen and Germantown, critical reasons to elect me — the only candidate with a long record of fighting developers on behalf of residents.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

The current Council is clueless about business, and has run our economy into the ground. We’ve become a bedroom community for growing job centers elsewhere in our region like Tysons. While Discovery was planning its exit from Silver Spring, the Council was debating a ban on circus animals and vending machine snacks. MoCo’s government liquor monopoly is killing our bars and restaurants.

I would repeal the 2016 property tax and 2010 energy tax hikes, require two regulations to be eliminated for each new one passed on business, fully-privatize liquor sales, and build a new Potomac River crossing to Dulles.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I’m the only candidate with over a decade of experience and accomplishments countywide as an activist. My boots were on the ground for all the major issues of this decade, including Westbard, Moses Cemetery, Rock Spring, Bethesda Downtown, bus depot, Rockville Pike Plan, and keeping Damascus rural. I’ve testified before the Council and Planning Board, marched alongside you in the protests, and reported your side of the story as a journalist.

Where were the other candidates when it mattered most? Nowhere to be found. As Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”

Chris P. Fiotes Jr.

• Where you live: North Potomac

• Date of birth: Dec. 17, 1933

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Retired broker, C.P. Fiotes & Associates; worked in the U.S. Senate for the sergeant at arms at the recommendation of U.S. Sen. Charles McC. Mathias (1975-1986); former U.S. Navy Reserve

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Ran for Congress in Maryland’s 6th District, 1992; ran for Montgomery Council at-large, 2014.

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

For a better Montgomery County.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Many. I will address issues during general election.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

Many. I will address issues during general election.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

Forty years Montgomery County resident and businessman. Prior political candidacies at local and national level.

Penny Musser

• Where you live: Boyds

• Date of birth: October 1961

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Allstate insurance agent: Previously: Managed a large insurance agency for 28 years in Gaithersburg.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): None

• Campaign information:

*did not respond to additional questions

Shelly Skolnick

• Where you live: Silver Spring (inside the Beltway)

• Date of birth: I am now 74 years old, and I will be 75 years old at the date of the primary.

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Attorney with Skolnick Law Firm, P.C.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Candidate for Montgomery County executive (2002), Montgomery County Council at-large (2006), U.S. House of Representatives in 8th District (2012), Montgomery County Council at-large (2014), U.S. House of Representatives in 8th District (2016).

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

The Montgomery County Council needs basic reform to better represent the concerns and needs of the million residents of Montgomery County. Accordingly, I have proposed to change the current structure of 5 districts and 4 at-large council members to 9 districts. Under this reform, each council member would vigorously represent about 110,000 constituents.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

The most important issues are improving the quality of life, and reducing the cost of living, for the million residents of Montgomery County. To address these issues, I am proposing multiple affordable solutions to quickly reduce traffic congestion: implementing a Bus Lane Toll at no cost to the taxpayers (rather than the billion-dollar BRT), Bus Rider Buildings at MetroRail stations, 50% fares during Hush Hours for MetroRail, and transferring MetroBus and MetroAccess from Metro to the local governments.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

The 100-mile billion-dollar Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) program is a costly and ineffective response to the county’s traffic congestion. In the past (and currently), I have proposed a Bus Lane Toll (BLT) solution where the left lane on 3-lane and 4-lane roads would be reasonable variable toll lanes during rush hours. The tolls would avoid any taxes for this solution. Also, the tolls would pay for reduced fares for bus riders using the BLT lanes during rush hours.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

For over 40 years, I have lived in various parts of Montgomery County (Bethesda, Rockville, Derwood, Olney and Silver Spring). Thus, I am very familiar with the concerns and needs of residents in many parts of Montgomery County. Also, I have observed the many changes to Montgomery County that have reduced the quality of life and the cost of living for the County’s residents.

DEMOCRAT

Gabe Albornoz

• Where you live: Kensington

• Date of birth: March 22, 1976

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Director, Montgomery County Department of Recreation

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): First time running for elected office

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I love Montgomery County and have deep roots here. I want to make sure that future generations are afforded the same opportunities and quality of life that I grew up with.

I’m running to build collaborations that enhance economic opportunities and ensure that we defend and preserve the dignity of all our residents in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

We are facing declining revenues and a growing economic divide at the same time we have seen a much greater demand on critical services, especially our school system. We must expand our economy to ensure that we have the sufficient revenue to address our growing needs and that we have economic opportunity across the County.

Specifically, we need to support our existing businesses through an aggressive buy local initiative and by ensuring that we provide access to capital and expand our marketing initiatives. We should also focus on adding incubator space and entrepreneurial education initiatives.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

We have had stagnant economic growth in the County. This is in part due to the economic recession and housing challenges we have had in our Community. We must be more aggressive in supporting our Economic Development Corporation to ensure we change the perception that Montgomery County is unfriendly to business.

Council can play an important role in courting new businesses in emerging markets. We must also focus on the creation of housing stock for the middle class, which includes our millennial population to ensure that we have the workforce present that attracts businesses.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I am a lifelong Montgomery County resident, a graduate of MCPS, and have lived in Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Bethesda and Kensington. I have experienced our growth firsthand.

For 11 years, I have served as Director of the County’s Recreation Department, leading an agency with 3,000 employees and a $39 million budget. I have also served on over 38 Boards, Commission, and Committees at the State and local level and political level, including becoming the first Latino Chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. I know where we have been, where we are, and where we need to go.

Rosemary Arkoian

• Where you live: Goshen/Gaithersburg

• Date of birth: Jan. 3, 1941

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Retired. Former Russian and Arabic linguist/ intelligence research analyst for National Security Agency and staff member for Congresswoman Connie Morella in her Rockville office.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Candidate for Montgomery County Council District 2 seat in 2002.

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I’m running for County Council At-Large to stand up for the average citizen, not the special interests groups. I want to listen to citizens and use my analytical, detail-oriented, common sense approach to solving problems.  I “talk the talk and walk the walk,” having volunteered for many nonprofits (40 years) and in 5 Montgomery County Public Schools (18 years) and at Montgomery College (6 years).

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

The most important issue is really 3 issues: transportation/infrastructure, education, and the economy. I’d work on more transit, strengthening Metro, completing one road for Upcounty (M-83), adding more MARC service, and fixing I-270. I’d help all students achieve their full potential by hiring dedicated, competent, caring teachers and by bringing magnet/choice programs to Upcounty, as are in Downcounty. I’d encourage adults to gain new skills for today’s jobs by enrolling in Montgomery College. I’d market Montgomery County as a welcoming place for all businesses, small and large, to come here. Cut red tape for new businesses.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

The major issue the current County Council has handled poorly is their non-completion of the 5.6 miles of Midcounty Highway (M-83). M-83 has been in the Masterplan since 1964 and the buildup of Clarksburg was predicated on its being completed. A “bait and switch” has been pulled on the Upcounty. Army Corps of Engineers and MDE have said Original Masterplan of M-83 is the best route. Political will has been absent and Upcounty residents have no been listened to. I’ll listen to all residents and get this done ASAP! Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I’m a former linguist/intelligence research analyst at National Security Agency (Russian and Arabic languages). I now consider myself a Community Volunteer, Civic Activist, and General Nudge. I co-founded Greater Goshen Civic Association in 1989 (President and Vice-President). I follow issues facing Montgomery County and testify and email numerous times to County Council and Planning Board. I’m truly ready on “day one” to serve. I’m honest, hard working,

Marilyn Balcombe

• Where you live: Germantown

• Date of birth: Aug. 13, 1957

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, president and CEO; BlackRock Center for the Arts, executive director; Department of Energy contractor, organizational psychologist, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): No elected positions

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

This is a landmark election. With at least four new Council members and a new County Executive, we need to elect new leaders who have a comprehensive knowledge of the complexity of the issues facing our County. While we live in a great community, our needs outstrip our resources. We need to increase our revenue without increasing taxes. I know I have the knowledge, skill and vision to lead our great community.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

There are many critical issues, including housing affordability, school funding, equity in education, the environment, etc. However, we cannot tackle any of these important issues without a strong, robust economy. As the CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, I work with businesses every day to help them grow and expand our tax base. I will continue to attract new business, expand existing business, and create a culture where new businesses can thrive. While every candidate talks about the importance of attracting jobs, I am the most qualified candidate to actually bring jobs to the County to support our economy.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

I have been talking with residents throughout the County and agree with many who believe that the latest property tax increase was excessive. While I understand and support the increased school funding, the property tax increase was higher than proposed by the County Executive and not all the funds went to MCPS. We cannot continue to raise taxes and price people out of the market, especially those on a fixed income who are hardest hit. We have a complex budget and great needs in our community, but I would be reluctant to increase property taxes above the CE’s request.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I’m an accountant with 35 years’ experience in budget and finance. I have a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology and know how effective organizations should operate. I am the CEO of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce. I also opened BlackRock Center for the Arts as their Executive Director. I am a community activist and have been working with the County Council for the past 25 years on issues such as transportation, master plans, zoning, budgets, legislation, nonprofit funding. I’ve advocated for libraries, parks, police stations, schools, and the arts. I have also volunteered and chaired many nonprofits in our community.

Charles Barkley

• Where you live: Germantown

• Date of birth: Oct. 16, 1950

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Retired teacher; Maryland state delegate

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Maryland state delegate since 1999

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

Montgomery County will have at least 4 new Council members. I am running because I believe my 20 years in Annapolis and 30 years in the classroom as a Middle School Math Teacher will bring a wealth of proven experience to the Council. My long track record shows I am ready to take on the challenges we face as a county.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

The most important issue is economic development and job growth. At the state level, we approved an incentive package to attract Amzon’s Headquarters Two to the county and to Maryland. We also worked with D.C. and Virginia to encourage Amazon to move to the Metro area if they do not select Maryland. We must find our what businesses want to move here. We must also work with all of our small businesses to help them grow. The County cannot do it alone, we need to build more private/public partnerships.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

The last time the County raised the property taxes and recordation tax, they did so without really sitting down and talking to the affected parties. The County Executive had a lower figure for increasing property taxes, but the Council ignored that and did their own thing. The Council never really discussed with Realtors any alternatives to raising the recordation tax. I would have an open-door policy and would be willing to meet with everyone to address our budget needs.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

In my 30-year teaching career, I taught in Takoma Park, Wheaton, Bethesda, Gaithersburg, and Rockville. This experience has shown me problems all parts of our county face on a daily basis. My 20 years as a Delegate in Annapolis also provides a great background of experiences in office. I was honored that my District elected me five times to represent them at the state level.

Shruti Bhatnagar.

• Where you live: Kensington

• Date of birth: Sept. 23, 1971

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Community advocate (last jobs: Montgomery County Public Schools, American Red Cross)

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): First-time candidate

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I love Montgomery County. This community embraced me when I moved from India for a better future. I want to ensure my children and all families have the same opportunity to succeed. It has been a privilege to serve this community for 16 years. Elected office is a great way to continue my commitment to public service. My professional experience and immigrant perspective will be valuable in addressing the complex challenges of our diverse community.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Equity and Social justice! I want to make sure that our diverse communities have access to resources and opportunities needed to thrive and for a better future. We need a comprehensive approach and it starts with quality education so that students have a pathway to success and working families can have better quality of life. My plan is to work with the all stakeholders at local and state level to get funding to invest in infrastructure, early childhood education, vocational and tech programs and free community college. Creating affordable housing and access to transportation and addressing hunger are essential elements.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

Many communities and small businesses don’t feel heard and welcome. Policies and regulations are unnecessarily complex. Local government needs to be responsive and accountable. Diversity is our strength and our biggest challenge. As an immigrant, I understand the challenges of our diverse community. I have led initiatives on community engagement and diversity inclusion. I would have enhanced community outreach efforts to make sure people are better informed, engaged and invested in the decision-making process. I would have strengthened diversity inclusion and collaboration to ensure people have a voice in the decisions that affect their everyday lives and quality of living.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

My experience includes leadership in corporate, nonprofit, community organizations and working part time in MCPS providing academic support. As a community advocate for the past 16 years, I have held leadership positions with organizations at local, County and State level such as the PTA, Kensington Heights Civic Association, Takoma Foundation, Montgomery County Commission of Children and Youth and am founding member of others strongly advocating on issues like education, immigration, healthcare, helping families find affordable housing, jobs and mentorship. I am politically active as Vice Chair of District 18 caucus and board member of Women’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County.

Cherri Branson

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: Sept. 30, 1959

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Current: director, Montgomery County Office of Procurement. Was interim Montgomery County Council member, District 5, 2014. Previous: chief counsel for oversight, U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Homeland Security (Democrats)

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Interim Montgomery County Council member, District 5, 2014. President, African American Democratic Club.

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

The average resident of this county needs a representative in government who is willing to listen and advocate for their interests, not the vested interests. I am running because I have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to effective and responsive government. The County Council decides issues that affect every aspect of the lives of County residents. I will be ready to serve on day one with the temperament, knowledge, and dedication residents need and deserve.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Economic growth is the most important issue in this election. I will work to grow and expand small, local and midsize businesses through programs that provide technical assistance, access to capital and increased contracting opportunities. By supporting local business development, we expand the tax base and decrease the need to raise revenue through property and sales taxes.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

When the Council permitted the pre-payment of property taxes in the closing days of 2017, it was responding to the uncertainty of federal tax reform. Many people rushed to pre-pay property taxes later to discover that the IRS would not permit the credit. I would have included a provision in the legislation that would have allowed the county to refund the prepaid amount if the IRS prohibited the credit for prepayment.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

My experiences have allowed me to understand this county and the needs of its residents. I am the only candidate who has local and federal legislative experience, including serving on the Council in 2014 as an interim member and serving 23 years on Capitol Hill (retiring as a Chief Counsel for a Committee). Also, I understand county government from the inside, currently serving as a Director of the Procurement Office, where I have increased the contracts awarded local, small, minority and women-owned business and streamlined the procurement process. I am ready to serve on day one.

Brandy H.M. Brooks

• Where you live: Wheaton

• Date of birth: July 31, 1976

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Leadership development organizer, Progressive Maryland; former director of programs, Dreaming Out Loud; former Greater Boston regional director, The Food Project

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Zoning Board of Appeals, Somerville, Massachusetts, 2013-14

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I’m an organizer, educator and designer living in a multi-generational household in Wheaton. I’m running so that families like mine all over Montgomery County have access to affordable housing, good public transit to help us get around the county, good education for our kids, and an economy that lets us support our families. And I’m running because I believe that we should have the power to shape the policies and systems that affect our lives.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Affordable housing is our most critical issue — if people can’t live here, we don’t have a county. We need more affordable housing for all income levels throughout all areas of the county. We also need affordable housing connected to affordable transportation options. I support strong renter protections, including rent stabilization and just cause eviction. I want to partner with more developers who focus specifically on producing affordable housing and commercial space. And I want to update our zoning to allow current property owners to produce more housing through accessory dwelling units, subdividing their homes, and building duplexes and triple-deckers.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

The current County Council and past Councils have done a terrible job of ensuring that development is accompanied by supporting infrastructure, especially when it comes to transportation and schools. Public officials use tricks like “placeholder” schools to allow developers to build well beyond the capacity of our local systems. This makes lots of money for developers, but leaves us with the burden of managing and finding funding to handle the impacts of development. I want to implement true community-driven planning processes and require developers to pay their fair share of the infrastructure their developments rely on to make a profit.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I have a background in community design and land use planning as well as nonprofit budget, staff and program management. I have mentored, taught and trained for nearly 25 years in higher education, professional development, and organizing, so I’m passionate about investing in the success of our students and educators. I have served as a zoning official and helped developed the comprehensive plan for the City of Somerville, Massachusetts. I am a community organizer who has worked on community food systems, community engagement, and environmental, social, and economic justice. I work every day to build the power of the people.

Craig Carozza-Caviness

• Where you live: Montgomery Village

• Date of birth: May 22, 1982

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Insurance agent/financial specialist, Allstate Insurance. Real estate agent, Porter House International Realty Group.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): N/A

• Campaign information:

*did not respond to additional questions

Ron Colbert

• Where you live: Damascus

• Date of birth: private

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Vice president, MELE Associates Inc.; retired from Safeway Food Stores

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): First attempt

• Campaign information:

*did not respond to additional questions

Bill Conway

• Where you live: Potomac

• Date of birth: June 5, 1957

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Retired, partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): None

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I am running to ensure that we have a county government that works to provide opportunity and prosperity for all Montgomery County residents. I retired from my law practice in March 2017 and intended to accept an attractive private sector offer. I did not expect to run for office, but Trump’s policies of bigotry and hate — particularly with respect to immigrants and undocumented people – made me feel that I had to do more than complain.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Our needs for services are exceeding our ability to pay for them. We must focus on growing more high-paying jobs in the County. If we don’t, we will not have tax revenue sufficient to pay for the government we expect. To address this problem, I would ensure that (i) our new Economic Development Corporation aggressively markets the County as an attractive business location, (ii) the County streamlines its regulatory processes to provide a welcoming business environment, (iii) the County is attractive to young people, and (iv) we play to our strengths in the sciences, especially in work force development.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

The property tax increase of 8.7% in 2016 inspired huge voter anger and was a mistake. Its original purpose was to restore school funding levels and to fund tax refunds under the Supreme Court’s Wynne decision. When the General Assembly provided for the funding of refunds over time, the 8.7% increase could have been substantially reduced while still increasing school funding, but the Council elected to proceed with the entire increase, which funded increases in other areas as well. I would have limited the rate increase to the portion necessary for increased school funding.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

Early in my career, I served as Senior Counsel to the Senate Energy Committee, where I conceived, drafted and negotiated the last major rewrite of our electricity laws, which lowered consumer bills and paved the way for the growth of renewable energy. Since then, I’ve been chief legal officer to a Fortune 500 utility company, an entrepreneur working to provide innovative ways of delivering electricity, and a partner in major law firms. I’ve made public policy, and I’ve had to make a payroll. In the local community, I’ve been continuously engaged in environmental and other civic causes.

Hoan Dang

• Where you live: Wheaton

• Date of birth: Dec. 7, 1966

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Senior program analyst with ITility, LLC

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Ran for state delegate in District 19 in 2010 (unsuccessful); elected to Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, 2010-14; elected chair of Maryland Democratic Party’s Asian American & Pacific Islanders Leadership Council, 2014-17

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

Montgomery County will operate a $5.6 billion budget in FY 2019 and there is a real threat of major budget deficits in FY 2020. This means less funding for schools, infrastructure and economic development. As the only Democrat running at-large with years of experience managing multi-million-dollar budgets, I’m running to find innovative ways to close our budget gaps, while meeting the needs of our growing and diverse population.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Our County ranks number 20 out of 24 local jurisdictions for job growth for the past 15 years. This stagnant economic growth combined with looming budget deficits could spell disaster for our County. I will work with our County Government to make it a leader in improving interactions with businesses by making procedures less complex and easier to understand while ensuring policies are maintained to protect our consumers, our workers, our environment. Our diverse and well-educated county has a lot to offer employers, but we need to make it easier for businesses to stay and grow in our County.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

The 8.7% property tax increase in 2016 to shore up the school’s budget could have been handled differently. This was caused by seven years of insufficient funding for MCPS following the great recession while other County agencies saw budget increases. MCPS is a huge asset and require continuous investments. Once the MCPS budget challenges became too large to ignore, the County Council was forced to pass a large tax increase to sufficiently fund MCPS. I would have ensured that our County was not in this position to begin with by adequately funding MCPS each fiscal year leading up to 2016.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I’m a budget expert, a community leader, and a former refugee. As a budget expert, I’ve spent years managing multi-million-dollar budgets and solving budget gaps. Montgomery County will operate a $5.6 billion budget in FY 2019, with a looming budget shortfall in FY 2020. This means less funding for schools, infrastructure and economic development. As the only Democrat running At-Large with years of professional experience managing multi-million-dollar budgets, I will find innovative ways to close our budget gaps, while using my experience as a community leader and former refugee to meet the challenges of our growing and diverse population.

Tom R. Falcinelli Jr.

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: April 16, 1960

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Attorney, Bay & Falcinelli, Rockville, 1987-present. Director of football officiating, Indoor Football League (IFL), 2012-present. Retired Montgomery County Police sergeant, 1985-2015.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Candidate for Montgomery County sheriff, 2014.

• Campaign information: http://www.spidernet1.com/tomf/TomFalcinelliResume2018.pdf

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

Term limits created a much needed purge of the council; it’s unfortunate they’re now all running for county executive. I’ve held real jobs as a MoCo cop, retired in 2015, and am an attorney in private practice, 31 years. I know what it is like to hold a real job, and pay outrageous taxes. Time for at least one fresh look on the council; who will serve one term only, with common sense. Tom.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

There’s more than one important issue. Can you say tax? I will vote no to any tax increase — end of story. Second, I will not support any councilmember’s special interest pet projects which are ludicrous and contrary to law. Example? The Leventhal sponsored unlawful pesticide ban fiasco which received a good old smack-down, getting overturned in court. I will work to ease the anti-business mentality of the council; focus on infrastructure; manage growth responsibly; I won’t pander to the extreme left; and will work to take Uncle Montgomery’s hands out of our pockets.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

One issue? LOL. MoCo’s liquor sales monopoly must end. Get completely out of the booze business; there are too many other issues to contend with. The Leventhal sponsored bill to ban lawn pesticides was dead from the outset, yet the council pursued it, only to be overturned by the Court. This anti-business (and unlawful) regulation would have put many landscapers out of work. The council is presently considering wasting $374,000 to provide free attorneys to assist people here illegally with their deportation defense. Our tax dollars to provide free attorneys to those here illegally? When does it stop?

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I served 30 years as a MoCo cop, the final 20 as an overnight supervisor. I experienced life on the streets; I am in touch with reality and what the people feel. By day, I have been an attorney in private practice for 31 years; I know how tough it is to earn a living with a real job. Most important? I am not a career politician who needs this job for a livelihood. Term limits is a wonderful concept. I simply want to try to do some good; then I will leave office after one term.

Lorna Phillips Forde

• Where you live: Germantown

• Date of birth: Aug. 22, 1958

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Owner, Aria Travel Service. Substitute teacher, Montgomery County Public Schools.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Montgomery County Commission for Women, 2012-present. Maryland Commission for Women, 2014-present.

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I am running to represent the diverse interests of county residents. I want to move Montgomery County forward on 1) universal economic viability (affordable housing and childcare, access to quality healthcare, small business development and growth); 2) public safety and security (police/community engagement, opioid awareness and abuse prevention); 3) improved and efficient transportation infrastructure; and 4) quality education for all students. I want to see all residents thriving together countywide, from birth to retirement.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Affordable housing is the most important issue — it is critical for families to be able to live comfortably, for recent college graduates to be able to return home to work, and for senior citizens to be able to age in place. I support rent stabilization programs, homeownership incentives that allow first-time home buyers a better chance of securing a home, and county funding to banks and credit unions that help first-time buyers finance their new homes. I support the mission of the MoCo Housing Opportunities Commission and its programs that identify housing opportunities for residents of low and moderate means.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

One such issue is the request to preserve the Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda. In March, at a community forum, I stood with community members and called for preservation and memorialization of this burial ground to ensure that Montgomery County history is complete and to honor and respect the full African-American experience in the county. Those who rested in this cemetery gave rise to an entire community in Bethesda. The council should acknowledge the importance of this issue, raise its visibility, and collaborate with the Housing Opportunities Commission and the community to preserve this place of deep significance.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I have spent years in advocacy and public service. I am president of the Montgomery County Commission for Women and a commissioner on the Maryland Commission for Women. In both roles, I have been a fierce advocate for women and girls. I have worked on a wide scope of issues affecting the lives of Montgomery County residents through leadership roles in a host of other organizations. I have degrees in finance and business, an extensive background in finance and planning, and own a small business, all of which would allow me to bring value to the council’s extensive budget process.

Loretta Jean Garcia

• Where you live: Bethesda (Woodhaven)

• Date of birth: March 3, 1955

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Manager of enforcement programs, Montgomery County Government Office of Human Rights. Previously in private law practice.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Current member of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, representing District 16

• Campaign information:

*did not respond to additional questions

Paul Geller

• Where you live: Olney

• Date of birth: 49 years of age

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Community activist/volunteer

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Immediate past president of the 42,000+ Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations. Current vice president of organization; elected four years in a row to executive board. Elected to area and local PTA positions.

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

As MCCPTA President and VP, I constantly travelled around the entire county to help our members. People often told me I was the only one to talk to them about issues that mattered and followed up with an unparalleled track record of advocacy success. I want to continue this effort as your Councilmember. Three current Councilmembers encouraged me to run: Floreen, Berliner, Elrich. This is something I have wanted to do since I was 12.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

One major item I will work on as your At-Large Councilmember will be making Montgomery County significantly more business friendly. We must grow our tax base by encouraging businesses to grow, move, or start here. Amazon HQ2 is just the beginning. We need to utilize the 10,000,000 square feet of vacant office space we have – enough to provide offices for 200,000 employees. Coincidentally, that is the same number of people leaving the county each weekday to work in other jurisdictions. Growing businesses here means people would have shorter commutes, less road congestion, and greater revenue for initiatives like universal pre-K.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

We need to consider moving from an annual to a biennial budgetary approval process. Currently, the Council and Executive offices spend a tremendous amount of time each year working on the budget. And many advocates spend a great deal of time trying to get funding for their agency (MCPL, MCPS, MCDOT), nonprofit, or specific project.  If we switched to a two-year process, we would free up a great deal of county staff time — something that would save us money and provide us with greater planning security in projects and initiatives that would be funded for two years at a time.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

President/VP 42,000+ member Montgomery County Council of PTAs. Elected four times. Worked closely with County Council and their staff in 2016, 2017 to secure first ever MCPS Operating Budgets that exceeded Maintenance of Effort. Worked with all stakeholders, including unions and nonprofits, to “make the pie bigger” and get this accomplished. For my work, Berliner, Floreen, Elrich all suggested I run. Constantly travelled the county for four years listening to the needs of my constituents: teachers, families, students, and community. Worked for U.S. Senators Russell Feingold and Carl Levin. Former employee of The Washington Post. Writer. Researcher. Successful community activist.

Evan Glass

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: Jan. 30, 1977

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Executive director of nonprofit Gandhi Brigade Youth Media; former CNN journalist

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Candidate for Montgomery County Council District 5 in 2014

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I am a former CNN journalist and current executive director of a nonprofit serving our county’s youth. I have also spent 15 years as a civic leader championing progressive initiatives from building affordable housing to protecting our trees and parks. I know how to institute proper oversight and instill accountability so that government programs are helping our communities and residents. I will be the watchdog to ensure our government gets things done right.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

If we want to expand early childhood education, build more affordable housing and expand our transportation system, we will need to figure out how to pay for those items. Instead of increasing taxes or cutting programs, I am focused on expanding the tax base and creating new sources of revenue so we can invest in our roads, schools and support services for seniors and youth. We must continue attracting businesses in the life sciences sector, which desire proximity to FDA, NIH and other federal agencies. I am committed to expanding prosperity to the entire county.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

I am excited about this election because it will result in at least four new members serving on the Council. This is important because there are a host of areas — from better oversight of construction and road projects to fostering a better working relationship with MCPS and the Board of Education — that I would like to improve upon. And with a near majority of new Council members, we can rethink the way our Council operates so that Montgomery County government works for every resident.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I currently serve as executive director of Gandhi Brigade Youth Media, a nonprofit that provides free afterschool programs for underserved youth. We operate our programs in libraries, middle schools and high schools throughout Montgomery County. Additionally, I have a successful track record of civic engagement as president of two civic associations and chair of a citizens advisory board. My commitment to our community also extends to board leadership of Montgomery Housing Partnership (affordable housing), Conservation Montgomery (environmental protection), Committee for Montgomery (legislative advocacy), Montgomery County Arts Advocates (arts education) and Equality Maryland (LGBTQ rights).

Richard Gottfried

• Where you live: Rockville

• Date of birth: Dec. 14, 1960

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Richard Gottfried, CPA, LLC, owner, accounting and tax practice. Montgomery College adjunct professor. University of Phoenix lead faculty area chair, School of Business

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Ran for Rockville City Council, 2007, 2011, 2015

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I’m running for County Council At-Large because MoCo is at a crossroads. We can no longer afford to keep the same way of thinking because it’s proven to be unsustainable. Our county budget is out of control, and solutions have been few and far between. It’s cost us residents, businesses and quality of life. As the only CPA running, I feel that I can bring a financial perspective to MoCo government that it desperately needs.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

There is no doubt, the #1 issue in MoCo is the massive $5.5B budget, and a shortfall projected to be $180MM this year, and only growing. The County Council has kicked the can down the road, but that can happen no longer. As a CPA, I will dig into the budget like no one else in the race can, I will engage the private sector to help, and I will lead the charge to advocate in Annapolis for the tens of millions in casino revenues that are supposed to come to MoCo. I have a solution to our traffic issue!

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

The Council has opted to “fix” the budget with tricks, gimmicks and raising taxes. You can’t solve budget problems by increasing the burden on the already over-burdened taxpayers carrying the load, because they’ll leave (which they’re doing). MoCo isn’t exactly a player in economic development — the recent Sage Policy Group study reported that the county had six (?!!!!!) more companies in 2016 than in 2011 — so new business can’t fill the gap. We must address the budget by tackling spending, understanding the new demographics of the county, and listening to taxpayers.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

As the only CPA in the race, I am uniquely qualified to address the county’s #1 concern: the budget. But I’m no stranger to public service. I have served the past decade — the last four years as President — as an officer for the Twinbrook Citizens Association, and worked closely with other citizens groups on large-scale initiatives, such as successfully blocking the much-debated bus depot proposal. Running this year is not a political move for me — it is to get something done, in an arena where I know my expertise can benefit my fellow taxpayers.

Neil H. Greenberger

• Where you live: Damascus (formerly lived for long periods in Bethesda and Gaithersburg)

• Date of birth: Dec. 24, 1954

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Since July 2017, I have worked on special projects assignments for the Public Information Office of the Montgomery County government, concentrating primarily on the Wheaton and Silver Spring areas. For the previous 10 years, I was the legislative information officer of the Montgomery County Council (basically in charge of public information for the council). Much of my working career—about 20 years—was as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): All of the jobs I have held since college have limited participation as a political candidate. However, during my time living in Montgomery Village, I was elected to the Northgate Homes Corporation and served on its board of directors for three years.

• Campaign contact information (email address, web site, Facebook, Twitter, other):

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I have worked as a senior staff member of the County Council for most of the past 11 years. We have a great county, but the Council has not treating residents well in regard to issues like tax increases and development plans. And then there are lesser, but important, things: We should not be doing things like hiding speed cameras behind bushes. I will be a Councilmember who represents what people want.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Soon we will start seeing the results of development plans the Council has been approving over the past decade that will reshape parts of this county — and will severely hamper our lives. I am a strong proponent of the growth and economic development, but these plans must have realistic infrastructure to benefit the people who have lived here and built this county. The plans approved for Downtown Bethesda call for 20- and 30-story buildings — but without new lanes of roads, transit improvements, parking spaces or school capacity increases. I will only vote for plans with solid and realistic infrastructure.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

We are making most of our county an unaffordable place to live for working people, retirees and young people who want to live here. The Council recently approved an 8.7 property tax increase. Even the County Executive said it was unnecessary. We have plenty of money — we just need to spend it better. A county law, approved by voters, allows one councilmember to make sure government runs efficiently by blocking an increase in property taxes above the rate of inflation. I will use that law to guarantee that there will not be a new property tax increase for four years.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

There are 33 Democrats running for at-large seats on the Council. None has more experience in local government than I do, and that will allow me to make sure we get things accomplished that residents and businesses are seeking — including a great relationship with our school system. I was a reporter and editor for The Washington Post for 20 years and have spent the past 18 years working in local government for the State Superintendent of Schools, the City of Rockville and for the county government. I know how government works — and I know how to get things done.

Seth Grimes

• Where you live: Takoma Park

• Date of birth: Nov. 8, 1959

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Alta Plana Corporation, management consultant

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Member of Takoma Park City Council, 2011-15

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

Public service is a passion for me, a calling. As a former elected Takoma Park Councilmember and a long-time community advocate — as a nonprofit board leader and frequent volunteer — I know the difference local government can make. I’m an independent voice — I don’t accept developer contributions — and will be the effective, responsive, passionate, progressive representative that County residents deserve.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Montgomery County has a trust gap. Residents and businesses are looking for leaders who will tame development and rework planning processes, who will build the school capacity we lack and create the transportation solutions we need, who will expand housing options and affordability and maintain the social safety net, all without breaking the bank, without more steep tax increases. Let’s add to the challenge list climate change, economic growth, and equity.

I will address challenges — I will build trust — via an inclusive approach that values and elevates community voices from every part of our diverse and vibrant county.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

The County Council has managed County revenues poorly. They have everyone upset: Property owners given the 2016 8.7% property tax increase. The business community given the broken energy-tax promise and steep increase in recordation fees. Residents given impact-fee exemptions granted developers. Revenue shortfalls — $120 million in FY18, $200 million for FY19 — further erode confidence.

I served on the Takoma Park City Council from 2011 to 2015. We raised property taxes a total of 1.2%, far below inflation, by controlling program and labor spending, limiting debt, and carefully managing reserves. This successful approach is the one I would have applied.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

Quoting the Seventh State, “Former Takoma Park City Council Member Seth Grimes’s edge is his experience… During his two terms in office, Grimes passed legislation allowing 16-year-olds to vote in municipal elections as well as banning environmentally harmful pesticides and polystyrene containers. The latter two bills were models for similar county legislation.”

I’m the parent of two K-12 public school grads and consult to data science software providers. I serve on the Shepherd’s Table board and as a member of the Montgomery County Board of Social Services and cofounded the Takoma Park Mobilization. Public service is my passion.

Ashwani Jain

• Where you live: I currently live in Potomac in a traditional Indian-immigrant household with my parents, sister and elderly grandmother. I was born in Rockville and have previously lived in Gaithersburg, Wheaton, Silver Spring and Potomac (4 of the 5 council districts).

• Date of birth: Aug. 12, 1989

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: I was mostly recently director of outreach for Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot Summit, as well as associate director of external affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): I’ve been working for President Obama for the last 10 years (2008/2012 campaigns in MoCo, the White House, HUD, HHS and Vice President’s Office). Specifically, I ran grassroots efforts to increase the diversity in our government, get billions of dollars in additional funding to the NIH, and get people access to affordable housing and affordable health care.

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I’m running because 15 years ago, I was diagnosed and treated for cancer. Going through that process made me feel very powerless, but determined to make sure no one else felt as powerless as I was. So I spent the last 10 years working for President Obama — in his White House, Administration and campaigns — to engage and empower communities all around Montgomery County. I now want to continue that work as an At-Large Councilmember.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Students shouldn’t have to worry about making it home from school alive. Montgomery County must do everything in its power to ensure our students’ safety.

In March, I trained high school and middle school students to lobby state legislators in support of outlawing bump stocks, and keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.

As an At-Large Councilmember, I’ll create a citizen oversight committee to make recommendations on school safety, commission a study of gun violence to track its impact on our families, and work with the Board of Education to fully fund measures that keep our kids safe.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

I believe the Council should do more to ensure we have a comprehensive transportation infrastructure plan.

Specifically, a comprehensive plan requires understanding the varying needs of county residents, both UpCounty and DownCounty. These communities face different transportation issues, thus require different solutions.

As such, I support the Purple Line, expanding the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, the Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT), limited roadway investments like M-83, as well as designated bike lanes and protected sidewalks.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

Through my work with President Obama, I’ve engaged and empowered communities here in Montgomery County for the last 10 years. I built coalitions that increased the diversity of our government, got Montgomery County families greater access to affordable housing and affordable healthcare, and increased funding for the NIH (one of our largest employers) by billions of additional dollars.

I have also lived in the county at-large (in 4 of the 5 council districts) and organized the county at-large, so I understand how to elevate the concerns of those who feel marginalized and underrepresented in our government.

Will Jawando

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: Jan. 2, 1983

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Lawyer. Previously associate director of White House public engagement under President Obama, then adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the Obama administration

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Ran for Maryland state delegate in District 20 in 2014. Ran for Congress in 8th District in 2016.

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I’m running to keep the Montgomery County Promise:

• High quality public schools in every neighborhood to close opportunity and achievement gaps. Affordable, accessible childcare and early childhood education.

• Safe, welcoming and diverse neighborhoods with mixed-income housing built near transit, meaning affordable housing for new families and seniors.

• A vibrant economy growing small and mid-sized businesses, and good-paying jobs.

• Policies to protect our air, water and green space as we grow responsibly.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Our economy. We must support small and mid-sized businesses even as we draw major employers. That means streamlining regulations and permitting, increasing availability of low-interest business loans and expanding our Business Navigator’s Office (which helps new businesses open). We must also build more pathways between MCPS career-and-tech programs, Montgomery College and private business. This could fill the nearly 30,000 jobs that require some kind of technical training yet are currently vacant. Yet a quarter of MCPS graduates do not go on to either college or a career-track certification or internship.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

There are previous Council decisions that permitted major development without ensuring adequate road and school space to service those families — leaving commuters stranded behind choke-point intersections and children in overcrowded classrooms. Land-use decisions require far more discipline in order to mitigate impact on our schools and roadways. I’d have voted to only allow for development when it was matched with the capital improvement needed for transit and schools to handle new commuters and children.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I have the right background of personal experience and public service at the community and national level. Aside from my work on Capitol Hill and in the Obama Administration, I co-lead the county’s African American Student Achievement Action Group, and served on the County Juvenile Justice Commission. I launched a nonprofit, Our Voices Matter, dedicated to serving underrepresented communities. Our campaign has earned more endorsements than any other candidate: Sierra Club, SEIU Local 500, Montgomery County Education Association, CASA in Action, MCGEO, Fraternal Order of Police, LiUNA, Progressive Maryland, Latino Democratic Club, and the Coalition of Asian Pacific American Democrats.

David V. Lipscomb

• Where you live: Gaithersburg

• Date of birth: Aug. 26, 1991

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Data manager at the Emmes Corporation

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): It’s my first time running for office

• Campaign information:

*did not respond to additional questions

Melissa McKenna

• Where you live: Gaithersburg

• Date of birth: age in January 2018 and for duration of the campaign, 47

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Currently an unpaid education advocate. Previously director of publications for the Society of Nuclear Medicine.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Vice precinct chair since 2014

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

As an Executive Officer on the County PTA (MCCPTA), I met people all around the county to hear the desires and challenges facing all 25 high school clusters. Some stories were unique; many resonated on themes of opportunity and livability in general in the County. I want to be where I can do the most good. It’s time to translate my very strong, successful schools advocacy to serve in other areas on the County Council.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Education! Our students only get one shot! Their success is critical to our collective future as a County. Our students need the best education and opportunities to prepare them for the real world. My personal goal is an 89%(+) graduation rate at all high schools! Continued, strong County financial support of MCPS’s operating and capital budgets is paramount. I brought $18M in MCPS capital funding back from Annapolis and already laid the foundation for more by testifying for the education trust fund “lockbox.” Support education-related and after-school programs. Continue working with Montgomery Moving Forward on early childhood care and education.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

Not necessarily poorly, but something I would have approached differently were the many Master Plan approvals made recently. Community involvement is imperative, and many communities did not feel included in the process and only consulted “after the fact” and then didn’t feel as though they were truly heard. I want to include all parties, including developers, at the table from the very beginning and throughout the process. I believe developers could come up with innovative solutions together outside the traditional process to tackle school capacity and transportation issues in ways other than those suggested by our planners.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I bring four intense years of working with MCPS, the Board of Education, the Planning Department and Board, City and County Councilmembers, City Mayors, and the State Delegation to Annapolis. I know and work well with all the players. While my platform covers Education, Opportunity, and Livability, I believe I have distinguished myself as the education candidate with a track record of success in securing and raising MCPS funding. I will use that experience and team building to bridge to a new Council and Executive and apply it to serve the County as a whole.

Danielle Meitiv

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: June 12, 1969

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Science consultant (self-employed); staff scientist, Clean Air Task Force; oceanographer, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Member of Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, District 20 (appointed)

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

Three years ago, my children were detained by the police for walking home without an adult. My husband and I were harassed and charged with child neglect. I fought back because no one should feel powerless when dealing with our local government. I needed leaders who would listen and care about what was happening, but no one did. I am going to be the change I needed then. I will listen and I will care.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

We must create jobs, increase the tax base, and bring in revenue to support the critical services the County provides. Montgomery County is primarily a small-business economy and most new jobs will come from expanding or retaining those operations. To create an environment that allows businesses, nonprofits, and cooperatives to start, grow, and thrive, we must invest in infrastructure like transit, to move people and services, and education, to prepare graduates for high skill, high-wage jobs. A public bank could help start-ups access capital while providing revenue for the County. Streamlining and simplifying the permitting process would help, as well.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

The Council has failed to manage Montgomery County’s rapid shift from sleepy suburbs to rapidly developing communities and urban enclaves. Too often, it has deferred to the skewed priorities of the Planning Board and wealthy developers, allowing over-development of luxury housing and underdevelopment of the amenities necessary for a high quality of life. Schools are overcrowded and crumbling, traffic is unbearable, and green space has disappeared from our downtown areas. We must collect impact fees from developers and put that money to use building necessary infrastructure, including transit. We must allow residents greater influence in the planning process.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

As a climate scientist, I have over 20 years of experience solving difficult problems using evidence, not politics. As the ‘‘free-range mom,’’ I stood up to the County bureaucracy and changed policies to help all families. I’m a strong advocate for women and helped found Jews United for Justice, a group dedicated to racial and economic justice in the DC region. I fought to ban fracking in Maryland, divest from fossil fuels, and pass a climate emergency resolution. I’ve represented D20 on the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. I will stand up for all working families of our County.

JIll Ortman-Fouse

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: March 3, 1964

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Member of Montgomery County Board of Education, at-large. Principal, T.E.A.M. Consulting, leadership and team building. Previously: Director of communications and development, The Faith & Politics Institute.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Member of Montgomery County Board of Education, at-large (2014-present).

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

Over the last four years as an at-large member of the Board of Education, I’ve heard the concerns of families and residents throughout the county. I’ve learned about the many challenges outside our school facilities that impact the kids inside. As I frequently encounter frustrating traffic, I understand the struggle to find affordable housing that’s accessible to reliable and efficient transit and jobs opportunities. I want to partner with our community to attack these issues.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Jobs, affordable housing and transportation options are not spread equitably throughout our county. Part of our county struggles under the weight of development while other parts lack the amenities and services they desire. We have to better balance our growth with the needs of the community. Too many areas don’t have reliable and efficient ways to get where residents need to go, and good job opportunities aren’t convenient. We need to better connect our residents with high paying jobs, prepare them with the right skills, and locate those opportunities where residents can afford to live.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

Instead of a large hike, I would have raised the property tax incrementally over time to better deal with the ballooning education and transportation needs, and created more strategic deals with developers to address infrastructure demands. I would have encouraged creative partnerships with developers to build local school additions, facilities and roads, reducing their impact tax; co-located county facilities with schools for flexible space; and worked with businesses to accommodate our fast-growing high school population with interest-based, work force programs. By more innovatively addressing the infrastructure needs, we would have had more timely solutions and reduced the county’s skyrocketing debt.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I have been proud to serve the county as a responsive member of the school board. I’ve worked hard to strengthen educational opportunities for all our kids, who are our future workforce and taxpayers. As chair of the Board’s Strategic Planning Committee, I’ve sought to reflect the voice of the community in the direction of our school system, and create greater transparency and accountability in our use of half the county budget. I’ve served for almost two decades in roles from PTA and civic association president to county committees and boards. I’m experienced and invested in our county’s success.

Hans Riemer (incumbent)

• Where you live: Takoma Park

• Date of birth: Sept. 5, 1972

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Currently a Montgomery County At-Large council member. Previously: senior adviser for AARP; national youth vote director for Barack Obama

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): At-large member of Montgomery County Council (elected 2010, re-elected 2014)

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I am running for re-election to advance our progressive, Montgomery County community values: to reduce MCPS class size, to strengthen pre-k and afterschool programs for low-income children. To move towards a smart growth future, to help ensure our county is more affordable and attractive to newcomers and empty nesters, while protecting the environment. To stand up for our immigrant communities. To attract young workers and support our seniors.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

We are a community that values education in order to create opportunity; education is always number one for me. Reducing class size and prioritizing school construction are key policies for the Council. As the needs of our community change we must also change the mission of education. We must invest in early education (pre-k), particularly for low-income children, and ensure access to affordable after school programs for all families. We must build new programs for STEM and coding. We must better understand and meet the needs of all children, including those with learning challenges.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

When I joined the Council, I vowed to change our alcohol laws; for example, to allow beer and wine sales at the grocery store. I established the Night Time Economy Task Force and a Council Committee on Liquor Reform. I proposed to partially privatize our DLC’s warehouse operation, but our state legislators did not approve that, and the small retailer lobby has blocked grocery store sales in Annapolis. Yet, my efforts liberalized liquor laws for restaurants and established a new local alcohol industry, with more than 9 new breweries opening since 2014, and a nascent winery sector.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

Today, I serve as County Council President, leading the Council’s deliberations through many significant challenges with our finances, budget, education, transportation, and economic development. In the years since I was first elected in 2010, I have gained extensive knowledge of our community’s complex needs as well as how to be a more effective Councilmember for our community. With four councilmembers departing the Council and a new County Executive incoming, we will need effective, experienced leaders on the County Council. Previous to the Council, I worked at AARP, for Barack Obama, for Rock the Vote, and in other progressive leadership roles.

Michelle Riley

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: Aug. 21, 1969

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: CPA. Consulting practice focuses on valuation and monetization of intellectual property. Employer is Stout Risius Ross Inc.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Never held public office; first campaign for public office

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I am running for County Council At Large because I will be a councilmember who is focused on growing our economy by helping businesses large and small locate here and do business here. I will also ensure we are spending tax dollars, the most precious of resources, to provide services that our citizens need and want. This type of common sense approach to governance has been missing from the council for quite some time.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

The most important issue in this race is Montgomery County’s shrinking tax base. We have a large number of baby boomers retiring from the workforce, many leaving federal government jobs that are not likely to be replaced in numbers that will provide certainty regarding our economic future. As councilmember, I will have as my primary focus the implementation of the recommendations shown in the November 2016 Countywide Comprehensive Economic Strategy. We must have a dedicated focus on economic development to ensure our county’s high quality of life can be maintained and I will provide that focus.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

When faced with spending needs or budget deficits, the current County Council has chosen to raise property taxes or borrow. This reliance on these “easy” answers has grown the county’s debt to the limit allowed under the Spending Affordability Guidelines. I would have always been attentive to business creation and attraction so that our county would be generating additional sources of revenue rather than just going back to the same sources again and again. In my opinion, development always has to include economic development/job creation.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I am a CPA and a business owner and have served my community through my church, PTA roles, my neighborhood’s civic association, and other citizens’ advisory committees. My private sector experience gives me a deep understanding of the interaction between business and government, and my financial expertise makes me one of the few candidates in this race who can understand our budgetary “big picture,” which is very important as we are entering an era of large anticipated deficits. My community service informs my thorough understanding of land use and planning issues, which is a large part of the council’s work.

Graciela Rivera-Oven

• Campaign information:

*did not respond to additional questions

Darwin Romero

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: June 20, 1977

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Operations manager for BA Construction Inc.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): N/A

• Campaign information:

*did not respond to additional questions

Mohammad Siddique

• Where you live: Montgomery Village

• Date of birth: Dec. 9, 1946

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Retired from Bechtel Corporation as program planner

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Political activist for over 40 years. Appointed as deputy director special projects by County Executive Ike Leggett, 2007-10. First time running for political elected office.

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I immigrated to America 44 years ago and I feel I am an example of promise of this land of opportunity. I have worked hard and made it well for my family. Now, when the White House diminishes the value of Immigrants’ contributions, I will not sit back and take it. I want to make sure immigrants have a voice.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

I wish our tax dollars are efficiently used. I have extensive experience of monitoring the project budgets and will emphasize to train the county workforce to save tax dollars. Those tax dollars can be used for schools, road maintenance and other community services.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

Increasing property tax was premature and especially the senior population will suffer being on fixed income. I would have waited another 4-5 years and would have exempted population over 65 or 70 years from any increase as long as they owned their property.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

Most of my experience has been in private sector in engineering and construction, which prepares me analyze issues logically and not due to political convenience. I can always challenge capital budgets assigned to various projects to save tax dollars. However, I have worked in Montgomery County for over 3 years and that gives me an insight as to where tax dollars may be saved. Politically, I have been activist for decades and played important roles in several campaigns. I understand political issues very well and help them resolve for the benefit of the people.

Jarrett Smith

• Where you live: Takoma Park

• Date of birth: Sept. 10, 1968

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Capitol Commercial Real Estate Advisory Group (CREAG), tenant representative

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Council member in Takoma Park.

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I have served 4 terms on Takoma Park’s City Council. I have led on voting issues, championed green communities, advocated for repositioning the Washington Adventist Hospital’s Campus, and demonstrated my support of economic development while preserving neighborhood character. Montgomery County has issues to be dealt with immediately and I am ready to address those issues with practical solutions that couple with my 4 terms of “know how” to get things started and demonstrate results quickly.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

The most important issue in this County Council race is the economic future of Montgomery County. My economic stimulus plan will come from tax revenue generated by business growth. And revenue from the referendum on November’s ballot to ensure gambling revenue is only used for education. My plan would be to make sure these funds would be used to infuse and ensure a quality school system and pay off increasing bond interest payments. Additionally, I would propose incentives to attract small and large businesses to the county and create a quasi-government/private sector venture capital fund for new and existing businesses.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

I feel that the Recordation and Property Tax increase should have never taken place. This decision placed more tax burdens on current property owners who already feel that taxes are too high. I would have pursued broadening the tax revenue base by attracting new, small and large businesses. In this way, no additional tax burden would have been placed on existing property owners. A missed opportunity was when NPR (National Public Radio) was looking for a new headquarters location. Given that Montgomery County is in such close proximity to Washington, D.C., NPR should have been pursued as a new business.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I am currently serving my 4th term on Takoma Park’s City Council. Additional capacities that have prepared me for this opportunity include:

• Current President, Montgomery County Chapter of the Maryland Municipal League

• Member and past Vice-Chairperson of the Maryland Municipal League’s Legislative Committee

• Member, National League of Cities’ Transportation & Infrastructure Systems Committee

• Former member of the Council of Government’s Transportation Planning Board.

My credentials that have prepared me for this County Council qre lengthy.  I can’t wait to plan the “new Montgomery County”!

Steve Solomon

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: Feb. 26, 1976

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Radio producer/host, Red Zebra Broadcasting

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): None

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I’m not a politician. I’m just an average, middle-class guy who wants to help the community I’ve lived in my whole life. I don’t believe in agenda driven politics. I want common sense solutions and smart spending from my county council. I’m not making fake campaign promises. I’m focusing on real issues that I’ll actually fix if I’m on the council.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Montgomery County is one of the wealthiest counties in this country, so why aren’t businesses coming here? Why do we have millions of square feet of empty office space that can’t be rented out? Because we have too much red tape and bureaucracy that discourages businesses from wanting to operate here, and we have high taxes that they don’t want to pay. We can’t continue to lose out to Northern Virginia as the destination for businesses.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

Deer management. While deer may not seem like a big deal to some people, they cause major problems. Not only do they eat your plants and potentially spread lyme disease, there were also 2,000 deer-vehicle collisions in Montgomery County last year, causing millions in damage. Every day, I see deer in my neighborhood, and most people I know have hit a deer at some point. We finally started an archery program in 2015, but we only have 2 areas where they have controlled hunts. We need to do more to control the deer.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I think we need councilmembers who understand the needs of the regular Joes here in Montgomery County. For the last 17 years, I’ve been a producer/host in sports talk radio. Thousands of listeners have come to know and trust me. They know I’m an honest guy who pulls no punches and tells it like it is on the radio, and will tell it like it is when I’m on the county council. Also, I volunteer with an animal rescue finding forever homes for dogs, so you know I actually want to help the community.

Chris Wilhelm

• Where you live: Chevy Chase

• Date of birth: Jan. 16, 1987

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Currently an ESOL teacher, Montgomery County Public Schools. Previously a program coordinator, IMPACT Silver Spring; campaign staff, Friends of Jamie Raskin

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): First-time candidate

• Campaign information:

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I am running for Council At-Large because I hope to address some of the misconceptions about Montgomery County. We’re often depicted as a model place to live, where the streets are paved with gold, and where our elected officials are always leading the way with progressive policies. I’m running because I believe we need to think carefully about how our policies affect working families and communities that go under-represented in Rockville.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

Inequality. We live in one of the wealthiest counties in the country, but we still have 55,000 students on free and reduced meals. We need to attack inequality directly by investing resources into Community Land Trusts. Using this model, we can help thousands of families in Montgomery County build equity through homeownership. We should do everything we can to keep dollars circulating locally, instead of subsidizing the profits of big businesses. Through locally-focused procurement, large ‘anchor’ institutions — such as hospitals, universities, and schools systems — can play a powerful role in building wealth that remains in the local community.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

The Council has also granted developers exemptions from impact taxes which could have gone towards fixing the lead discovered in the drinking water of our elementary schools. We have now known about this issue since March of this year, but the Council has failed to take decisive action. The safety of our student population should be one of our top priorities and we fail them if we can’t even provide them with clean and safe drinking water.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

The most effective councilmembers understand the mechanics of excellent constituent service, and they know how to work with community members to build support for their policy goals. I have direct experience in constituent service as a former staffer for local Democrats like Jamie Raskin, and I’ve engaged in the Council budget process while working as an organizer with IMPACT Silver Spring. I am currently a high school ESOL teacher and have worked firsthand with the students and families that are underserved and underrepresented in county politics.

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