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Montgomery County Council District 1

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REPUBLICAN

Richard Banach

• Where you live: Chevy Chase

• Date of birth: February 1998

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

• 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)

No political party is perfect, yet core supporters of a party support a majority of their party’s beliefs. This causes politicians to support policy that caters to their base to secure a primary win, which may not be what is best for the community. If elected, I will identify and fix universal issues, that are overshadowed by development concerns, with innovative, nonpartisan, cost-effective solutions that facilitate a prosperous county.

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

MCPS and Montgomery College are over 50% of our county’s budget, yet they are overshadowed by other issues. We need someone on the council to promote equality of opportunity by updating school curriculums, technology and incentive structure. 100 words is not enough for me to identify and explain all the problems within MCPS that are not being addressed. Our schools need to be ahead of the curve by providing classes on trade skills and computer science, all the while pushing the start time of schools back to reduce sleep deprivation and youth car crashes.

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 not running to nitpick mistakes by the Council for my own gain. I am here to promote a positive vision for Montgomery County, where our education is second to none, business flourishes and people have a great quality of life. However, we have not had a Republican in over a decade and a half, which has caused a monopoly of power for Democrats. I am no economist, but I know that monopolies reduce innovation and cost consumers more than if there was competition. So ask yourself, do you believe in business monopolies?

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

I am a 20-year-old college student studying political science, yet I have a deeper understanding of how to reduce youth crime and provide equality of opportunity in our schools. Our council is mostly made up of people in their late 50s and 60s. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. We need someone on the council to think differently and find innovative solutions. Call me ageist for thinking another person in their late 50s or 60s is going to be any different from their peers.

DEMOCRAT

Bill Cook

• Where you live: Bethesda

• Date of birth: Aug. 24, 1977

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Business owner, video production

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

• Campaign information:

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

I’m running for county council because the voice of our residents has been drowned out by big money donors and corporate-funded candidates. Too many of our representatives are more concerned with the interests of their donors than the interests of the voters. We need independent voices on the council that are not beholden to their corporate donors. That’s why my campaign only accepts donations from individuals — no developers, corporations or special interest groups.

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

Real estate development is wreaking havoc on our quality of life. Our schools and roads are increasingly overcrowded and because developers don’t pay their share in taxes, we don’t have the money to pay for the schools and transportation that we need. I will work to close loopholes and increase impact taxes to ensure that development pays its fair share and our county has the funds it needs to keep pace with growth.

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

I was disappointed that the Council approved the Downtown Bethesda Master plan without any staging requirements that would make sure our infrastructure keeps pace with growth and without any significant plans for public spaces and parks.

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

I’m not your typical candidate. I am not a political insider, I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a wealthy bureaucrat. And I think that’s important because our democracy works best when we have people from all walks of life representing us in government. Not just career politicians. I run a small business and have volunteered for campaigns and progressive causes including local issues like raising the minimum wage, paid leave, fossil fuel divestment, and banning fracking in Maryland.

Pete Fosselman

• Where you live: Kensington

• Date of birth: Sept. 16, 1967

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Current: master plan coordinator for White Oak, Office of the County Executive. Previously: Maryland deputy secretary of state; project manager for the Kentlands in Gaithersburg, Rodgers Consulting.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Mayor of Kensington, 2006-16; president of Maryland Mayors’ Association, 2015-16; ran for District 18 state delegate, 2002.

• Campaign information:

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

Public service was instilled in me as child. My grandmother and great-grandfather were elected officials. As a child, I volunteered for campaigns stuffing envelopes, knocking on doors and driving voters to the polls. As Mayor of Kensington and Governor O’Malley’s Deputy Secretary of State, I enjoyed working for the community by finding solutions to issues and helping others, be it reviving a local economy and advocating for municipal needs to domestic violence and human trafficking.

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

Master plans. Decisions made for master plans affect our daily lives — traffic, schools, economic growth, environment, green space and housing. Balancing the way we grow so we may improve upon these issues is crucial for our future. I am the only candidate running in District 1 who is an urban planner and has chaperoned a master plan through the approval process. The County’s process is flawed and lacks public input and outreach. Each community is unique with respect to development and should be treated individually. More listening to residents and businesses is needed; and less talking by officials.

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

The budget. The taxpayers’ money was used to pay $375M in interest last year; and we are $120M short this year. The County Council must exercise fiscal discipline. Expenses must be prioritized with the essentials like road maintenance, schools and basic government functions coming first. Partnerships with nonprofits must be built upon to help bridge the gap of funding needs and provide quality social services.

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

I have served as Deputy Secretary of State, Mayor of Kensington, President of the Maryland Mayors’ Association, Chair of the Gaithersburg Economic Development Corporation, small business owner, and an Urban Planner. I will bring these experiences, with an understanding of zoning, land use experience, and the trials of small business ownership, to better serve District 1. As the Mayor, I revived our local economy, was responsible for our budget, and increased opportunities for public involvement. As Deputy Secretary I expanded public programs for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking and oversaw the budget for my divisions.

Andew Friedson

• Where you live: Bethesda

• Date of birth: Jan. 9, 1986

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Senior policy advisor, comptroller of Maryland; chair of the Montgomery County Collaboration Council for Children, Youth and Families

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

• Campaign information:

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

I’m running to Ease the Montgomery County Squeeze on our schools, our roads, and our families. We can’t afford to ignore the changes happening all around us because they’re putting the squeeze on all of us, threatening our quality of life and our ability to protect and invest in the values that have always made Montgomery County a special place. We need new leadership for a new time, and I hope to provide it.

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

We have a wage and age challenge that threatens our ability to maintain our quality of life and level of services, and to keep up with our growing needs. With declining wages, an aging workforce, and a shrinking private sector, we have remained too reliant on a federal workforce that isn’t growing to sustain our local economy. Unless we are willing to sacrifice services, our quality of life, or taking care of people who need it most, or are comfortable with continual property tax increases, we need to grow a private sector economy with better jobs and higher wages.

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

Debt service is currently the third largest item in the budget, behind education and public safety. That isn’t sustainable, and reflects a lack of fiscal oversight and inability to grow the tax base (despite increasing taxes). I will utilize my skills scrutinizing billions in government contracts, holding agencies accountable, and supporting small businesses to provide better fiscal oversight and grow private investment by streamlining the permitting process, reforming the budget process to promote innovation, finding efficiencies through a top-to-bottom review of spending, and including small business effects of proposed polices in every fiscal impact statement, as the General Assembly does.

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

As senior policy advisor for Maryland’s Comptroller, I scrutinized agencies and reviewed billions in government contracts to ensure transparency and accountability, helped teachers secure a dignified retirement, and restructured Maryland’s 529 College Savings to help families save for college. With that, and my experience launching a statewide program to help Marylanders with disabilities achieve financial security, supplying direct financing to aid Maryland’s women and minority-owned small businesses, and providing programming to support Montgomery County’s at-risk youth as Chair of the Collaboration Council for Children, Youth & Families, I’m prepared to provide the new leadership we need for challenges we face.

Ana Sol Gutiérrez

• Where you live: Chevy Chase

• Date of birth: Jan. 11, 1942

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Current: Maryland state delegate, District 18. Retired systems engineer, vice president of strategic initiatives, Computer Sciences Corporation

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Maryland state delegate, District 18 (2003-present). Candidate for congressional District 8 in Democratic primary (2016). Member of Montgomery County Board of Education (1990-98).

• Campaign information:

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

To improve the quality of life of residents by bringing my experience in public policy and budgets to County government services. I offer fiscally responsible, balanced budgets within spending affordability guidelines, while providing high-quality public services and quality education to our families. As a dedicated public official and problem solver, I am committed to fighting for great schools, balanced economic development, reliable transportation, affordable health care and housing, fair livable wages, and climate change solutions.

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

Budget and effective resource management: Budgets are the most important public policy document that a government approves. Budgets decide winners and losers and can exacerbate inequities if budget decisions and choices do not respond to a strategic vision of fairness, equity, and inclusion. Good fiscal management of our limited revenues is critical if we are to maximize the benefits to our residents from recent 9% tax increases. With experienced planning, more effective planning and overall management, and tighter fiscal control of county expenditures, we can and must deliver on our promises and exceed expectations for excellent quality of government services.

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

Education Equity and School Construction. The County failed to make closing achievement gaps and school construction a top priority. Ensuring greater education equity and opportunities for all students to succeed must be an achievable goal. The Council must fight for a greater percentage of State funding for school construction and ensure “our fair share” of state funds based on our ever growing enrollment, unmet needs, and increasing levels of poverty in our student population. As a Council member, I would actively advocate for our education needs in Annapolis, the way Baltimore City and other jurisdictions do to obtain state funds.

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

My past public service as an elected official and IT professional have well prepared me. I am well qualified as:

• an elected Maryland legislator/policymaker with 16 years relevant experience in policy decisions in House of Delegates

• a budget expert (12 years on House Appropriations)

• an education advocate and past member of MoCo’s Board of Education (8 years)

• a professional IT systems engineer with over 30 years in private sector

• a Clinton federal appointee as Administrator at U.S. Department of Transportation

• a social justice champion for working families, women’s rights, immigrant rights, and vulnerable populations, e.g., children, youth, disabled individuals, seniors.

Jim McGee

• Where you live: Bethesda (Bannockburn)

• Date of birth: May 29, 1949

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Current employment: executive director, Transit Employees’ Health & Welfare Fund

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): No elected office. In Pennsylvania, Democratic committeeman (elected), judge of elections (elected).

• Campaign information:

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

I am campaigning for a greener healthier Montgomery County that supports working families.

Greener means reducing carbon footprint and supporting transit and smarter growth with greater citizen engagement.

Healthier means preserving green spaces and making streets safer for bikers and walkers and protecting MoCo’s access to free primary care.

Supporting working families means more affordable housing, expanding educational opportunities and protecting vulnerable residents.

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

A priority issue that will allow us to address other issues is to grow the economy and increase our tax base and our tax revenue. One effort is to work harder to attract and retain small businesses. Too often, the DPS loses sight of the larger goals of the county. We need a small business navigator that is more than a web portal but that reaches out to engage and understand small business issues. We need to recognize the monopoly power we give developers in specific locations and the impact on making rents affordable for small businesses.

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

A recurring issue throughout the county is managing change, especially growth and density.  Zoning decisions are critically important to the process. We need a Planning Board that is more accountable and responsive to citizen input and recognizes that not everyone can be an expert in the nuances of planning board decisions, but that everyone is affected.

Two changes to consider: Reinstituting the Citizens Advisory Panel to encourage more participation in the early stages of the planning process. Expanding the County Council to add one more Council Member per District and one more At-Large Council Member.

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

I am an environmental activist, a union activist and an activist for Medicare for All. I also have an MBA and administer a $180 million health care benefit plan. I understand financial statements, budgets, contracts, RFPs. I interact regularly with lawyers, accountants and consultants. Additionally, customer service is a critical organizational mission.

I report to a board of labor and management and have spent my career working to bring labor and management together on benefit issues.

In short, I combine the social justice values of an activist with the skills of a professional.

Regina “Reggie” Oldak

• Where you live: Bethesda

• Date of birth: Jan. 23, 1951

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Tax attorney, retired from IRS. Former director of government relations, National Women’s Law Center. Former chair of the board of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Candidate for delegate in District 16 in 2006.

• Campaign information:

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

With a dysfunctional federal government, we really have to rely on our local government now to protect our rights, invest in our priorities, and provide equal opportunity for all. At least four of nine Councilmembers and the County Executive will be new. With so much turnover, we need legislators who are ready to work on day one. After a career in law, policy and advocacy, I have the necessary skills and experience.

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

The threshold issue is the County’s fiscal health. Revitalizing our economy requires attracting and keeping businesses of all sizes. Good jobs will increase our tax base, encourage demand for local retail/service providers, and build economic security for families. I would assess every proposal to make sure it contributes to a business-friendly environment, supports workforce development, and look closely at our regulatory structure to make sure we are welcoming to businesses. My overriding concern about economic development is the need to diversify our economy rather than continue our dependence on federal jobs. I fully support the County’s efforts to attract Amazon.

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

While I can’t put myself in the shoes of those who dealt with issues before me, I would have acted differently on the Westbard Sector Plan. The original plan contained too much density for an area without transit. I support smart growth — transit-oriented development that locates higher intensity development near transit. Infrastructure needs are a critical part of all land use decisions, and traffic and school capacity must be addressed before approvals are granted. In addition, if the Council had considered alternative scenarios when reviewing the Plan, perhaps they could have considered how to include more affordable housing.

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

I’ve devoted my career to public service, and I have broad experience at all levels of government. As a tax lawyer, I sharpened my skills at the IRS and in private practice. I’ve worked in Annapolis as a legislative aide and at the County Council. I’m also a champion for women, families, and vulnerable members of our community, and I have worked with many nonprofits. I served as chair of the board of our regional Planned Parenthood, senior counsel of the National Women’s Law Center, president of Montgomery County’s Commission for Women, and chair of the Women’s Legislative Briefing.

Dalbin Osorio

• Where you live: Chevy Chase

• Date of birth: May 8, 1985

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Social worker, government of the District of Columbia

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Worked on Obama ’08, Obama ’12, Sanders ’16, Clinton ’16 campaigns

• Campaign information:

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

I am running for office because the Council has not been representative of the diverse community it serves. It is time we had equal representation, with council members that are directly impacted by the legislation they work to pass.

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

Every issue is important, and they are all connected: our strong schools led to families relocating to Montgomery County, thereby leading to our schools being overcrowded and those same families struggling to live here because wages have become stagnant. I would work to reduce overcrowding of schools by breaking down our bigger schools into smaller schools. I’d increase wages by recruiting businesses and creating pipelines between our unions and prospective employers. Higher wages would mean that our families would be able to remain in Montgomery County because they can actually afford to.

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 struggled to handle the traffic congestion and Master Plan rollouts that are directly associated with that have led to frustration from our community. I would’ve worked to ensure that our community members felt that their voices heard and that they were part of the entire process: our community is the only stakeholder coucilmembers should answer to.

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

I’m a Social Worker, and have been a Program Manager, Teacher, Teacher’s Assistant, and Quality Assurance Coordinator. I am currently the Mid-Atlantic Region Director for the Black Caucus of the Young Democrats of America. That’s my resume, and it is one I am incredibly proud of. I have balanced budgets and created programs for our most vulnerable populations, and served those same populations enough direct service. I have also organized around Racial Justice and Pro-Choice legislation, and believe that it is now time that a Social Worker that understands people gets to help this community.

Meredith Wellington

• Where you live: Chevy Chase

• Date of birth: Sept. 14, 1949

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Former commissioner, Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Member, Montgomery County Planning Board, 1999-2007. Previously: assistant chief counsel, National Labor Relations Board.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Appointed by the Montgomery County Council to the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission and Montgomery County Planning Board, 1999-2007; appointed by the Planning Board to the Montgomery Parks Foundation, 2011; applied and interviewed for Planning Board chair in 2014

• Campaign information:

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

I have lived in the County for over 30 years. My husband and I raised our children here. As an attorney and former member of the Planning Board, I am running because the County is racing towards a tipping point when it comes to our budget deficit and our unbridled development — development that has failed to generate good jobs and the revenues we need for critical infrastructure — schools, transportation, affordable housing, and parks.

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 the excessive development that has failed to generate good jobs and substantial revenues, thus necessitating the Council’s almost 9% increase in property taxes. I will work with the Economic Development Corporation and all stakeholders to support and attract businesses with good jobs. I will make sure that the deals the County makes with developers are fiscally sound for the County. I will go line by line to find savings in our budget to fund priorities: school construction, transportation, and parks. I will stage development in master plans so development does not continue to overwhelm infrastructure.

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 has failed to plan for our future — conflating building lots of apartments with real economic development that creates good jobs, and green lighting excessive amounts of development without planning for and building the infrastructure necessary to support the new development. Our recent master plans do not consider residents’ needs, and lack a vision for attracting new jobs, millennials, startups and incubators. For each plan, I would have appointed an advisory group including the Economic Development Corporation, businesses and citizens to create a plan that advances County interests, and offers a blueprint for economic development.

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

For 25 years, I have worked successfully to improve communities, focusing on youth development, parks, the environment, and schools. During eight years on the Planning Board, I worked for the equitable distribution of playing fields and community centers, so that every child has the same opportunities. I spearheaded the Ballfield Initiative. To date, over $15M has gone to that program. I also strongly advocated for the purchase of the Josiah Henson Park, and, as a trustee of the Montgomery Parks Foundation, I have devoted time to raising funds in honor of Reverend Henson, whose 1849 autobiography inspired Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

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