2020 | Opinion

Opinion: Representation that’s more local would help an ignored community

A County Council member should be responsive, listen to diverse viewpoints

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To the editor:

One argument against a nine-district Montgomery County Council is that it will create a parochial council. The definition of parochialism is to ignore the impact of cultural concepts and diversity on organizations, professions, policies, procedures and programs.

I argue that a nine-district County Council would increase diverse voices, promote diversity and increase the input by all residents of Montgomery County in the civic processes in this county.

I believe diversity of thought means welcoming, yes, welcoming viewpoints that are different from your own. No one can build consensus if others with different viewpoints feel as if their thoughts are not being shared or heard.

As president of the Greater Olney Civic Association (GOCA), diversity of thought is something I have embraced. I welcome those who have different views on issues than my own.

I invite individuals to express diverse viewpoints to the GOCA officers and the GOCA general membership at our monthly meetings. We in Olney often feel we have not been given the same courtesy.

GOCA officers and membership voted overwhelmingly to support Question D (nine council seats, all by districts) in the general election and against Question C (11 council seats, with seven by districts and four at-large) because it is critical that we feel heard and included in the decision-making process that affects our district.

We often feel ignored. Twice in 2019, I invited council members to attend GOCA meetings to discuss local issues. We have multiple issues that may not be significant to those outside of Olney, but are significant to us.

Each time, the council members canceled at the 11th hour.

In fact, our district council member stated several times that Olney was “doing just fine” and that she needed to focus on Aspen Hill south, and didn’t need Olney to win. From Olney’s perspective, our voices and concerns are not a priority.

When I became the president of GOCA, one of my priorities was to see that Olney had an impact on those who represented our district. Becoming part of a smaller district where we can have a significant say in who our elected officials are and who will be responsive to our needs is what I feel is best for the citizens of Olney.

Matt Quinn
Greater Olney Civic Association

Editor’s note: Bethesda Beat gave County Council Member Nancy Navarro — the district council member Matt Quinn mentions in his letter — a chance to respond to his characterization of the comments that he alleged she made. Navarro provided this statement: “I am grateful for the trust that District 4 voters have placed on me to serve the District since 2009. District 4 is a special place, blessed with vibrant and involved communities. Olney is no exception. My office has had the great honor of addressing a myriad of issues and priorities in Olney during my tenure, and we will continue to do so.”


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