Category Archives: Elections

Mark Winston for Delegate Democrat District 16

Mark’s Bio: I am a graduate of Georgetown University and Georgetown University Law Center.  I have practiced law for 35 years, lived in District 16 for 33 years, and have been married to Bonnie Casper for 27 years.  Bonnie and I have a daughter, Blair, age 22, who recently graduated from college.  I served 14 years on the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission (4 as chair), 4 years as chair of the State Transportation Commission, one and one-half years as a member of the State Roads Commission, and 14 years on the board of directors of my temple. 

On the Purple Line: Yes.  It is one of a group of transit-oriented solutions to our transportation problems.  It addresses a weakness in our METRO system by connecting sides of the red line and sides of the green line.  It will provide a transit alternative to commuter and other driving between sides of Montgomery County.  Thus, it will reduce congestion and air pollution.  It will also be conducive to balanced and smart business and job growth in Bethesda and neighboring communities.

Energy and the Environment: Certainly, we should promote alternative energy use and efficiency.  If elected, I would want to take counsel with the Bethesda Green organization on how to accomplish this.  I support creation of a revolving loan fund to assist owners of existing homes to make energy efficiency improvements.  In addition, I believe as a part of our economic development strategy in the years to come, we should focus on attracting business in the area sometimes referred to as the “new economy” – particularly alternative energy research and development.  Given the presence of the bioscience and high technology businesses, this should be an excellent fit for Montgomery County and Bethesda.

Taxes: If we want excellent services to enhance our quality of life we must pay for them.  It is fashionable to talk about reorganizing government and more efficiency.   While we should adopt such efficiency measures, if we are candid we know that such measures will only save so much.  In short, while we must be mindful of the tax burden on people and businesses (because if it becomes excessive it will have a negative impact on both), the fact is that we must pay for what we want.  We cannot pretend otherwise.  We cannot reduce taxes at this time.

Smart Growth Thoughts: Achieving the balance the question refers to is an on-going challenge.  The implementation of “smart growth” principles necessarily suggests that certain kinds of growth will be concentrated in certain areas.  We need to focus on transit-oriented transportation solutions – and we cannot limit such solutions to major systems which are both expensive and subject to long delays in implementation.  We should focus on more localized solutions – such as expansion of bus trolleys and circulators to reduce congestion and bus rapid transit in appropriate corridors.  These approaches are more flexible, less expensive and faster to implement.

Schools: The Montgomery County Schools are within the jurisdiction of the non-partisan Board of Education, subject to budgetary review by the County Council.  As a Delegate, I would neither be involved in policy-making directly affecting the schools, nor in the implementation of those policies.  Nor should a Delegate be so involved.  However, if elected I would seek to maximize the resources made available by the State to Montgomery County to preserve and enhance the quality of the public schools.

Speed Cameras: I have also been skeptical of the real reasons for speed cameras.  The primary justification for speed cameras must be improvement of public health and safety.  If one of the consequences of such cameras is also additional revenues, that is fine.  If elected I would want to satisfy myself that health and safety is the real reason for the location of such cameras. 

Ambulance Fees: This is a matter within the jurisdiction of the County Executive and Council, not the General Assembly.  However, so as to not avoid your question, I do support the fee.  It raises needed revenue.  Also, the fee will only be charged when it is reimbursed by patient insurance.

Mark’s website: http://www.markwinstonfordelegate.com/

Thanks Mark!

Nancy Floreen County Council At Large Democrat

Nancy’s bio: Council President Nancy Floreen is completing her second term as an At Large member of the Montgomery County Council, chairing its Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee and serving as a member of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development Committee.  She is on the Boards of the Strathmore Hall Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, and the Jewish Council on Aging. Over the past thirty years, Nancy has been an engaged community advocate, as a community land use attorney, PTA President, eight year member of the County Planning Board and Mayor of Garrett Park. Nancy resides in Garrett Park with her husband David O. Stewart and Lady, their schnoodle.  She has three adult children, all of whom attended Montgomery County Public Schools.

Nancy on the Purple Line: Yes.  It will connect urban cores and Metro lines in Montgomery County to the University of Maryland and the New Carrollton Metro and train station, creating the first real network of transit in the area.  At the same time, it will be designed to be as community friendly as possible.  It will give county and regional residents a genuine, accessible alternative to automobile travel, and move us toward a more rational, efficient, and environmentally sensitive mobility mindset.

Energy and the Environment: I’ve supported Bethesda Green and its environmental initiatives, and I initiated the work on the Green Business certification program.  That new program encourages businesses to “go green”  and then will market them to the community at large.The standards are high, and focus on a large range of energy reduction approaches to reach the goal. See www.mcgreenbiz.org/ .  I also intiated the green building tax credit, which provides a property tax credit for LEED silver or above certified buildings. ( Bill 37-06)

Education: I am absolutely dedicated to supporting our investment in the Montgonery County Public Schools.  I believe this is a prime contributor to our success as a county.  As you may know, it is the Board of Education that establishes their policy direction. Nonetheless, I believe we have a good working relationship with the Board and we will take a very deep interest in the selection of the new Superintendent. We will need to work together extremely closely over the next year to face the county’s fiscal challenges with a collaborative spirit.

On Ambulance Fees: They will be recovered directly through insurance, as any visit to the emergency room is,  If there is no insurance, there will be no payment required.  This approach is consistent with that employed in nearly every county in Maryland, and in the District of Columbia and Fairfax County.

And Speed Cameras on Connecticut: The speed cameras on Connecticut were the product of actions by Chevy Chase Village.  They have beem extremely effective in slowing drivers down, as have the new ones in Kensington. This issue is about community and pedestrian safety, not revenues.  Speeding tickets are easily avoided by not speeding.

More info can be found here: NancyFloreen.org

Thanks Nancy!!

Becky Wagner County Council At Large Democrat

Becky’s Bio:

A 40-year county resident, married to Bob Wagner, two sons attended Walt Whitman and public universities;  started Montgomery County’s first shelter for homeless women; served on the staff of US Senator Paul Sarbanes for 6 years and has lead Interfaith Works for 11 years, a professionally managed non-profit of 110 employees and 7,000 volunteers, serving the low income community;  Co-chaired the Vote No on Ficker Amendments, Stop Slots and Safety Net Coalitions;  endorsed by numerous organizations and individuals including the teachers (MCEA), The Gazette,  Montgomery Business PAC and B-CC Chamber PAC, fmr. County Executive Doug Duncan & Sen. Paul Sarbanes.

Her thoughts on the Purple Line:

The Purple Line is a good idea.  We have to be able to move east-west in this County.  A genuine smart growth strategy focuses on jobs and housing in mixed-use, transit-oriented communities, located around planned transit stations and in town centers.  We need affordable and reliable transit to get to work and school, and to create a business friendly environment to attract jobs and grow our tax base.

On Energy and the Environment: I have been learning more about opportunities for solar power, not only as part of building design, but as an affordable addition to buildings and homes currently relying on more traditional sources.  I would also be interested in understanding the barriers to implementing geo-thermal power sources for personal residences.  We should look at best practices across the globe for incentivizing small businesses and builders to enter the industry to implement alternative energy use.

Taxes and the economy: I am a progressive Democrat and I expect to pay taxes. I expect my taxes to pay for education, fire and safety, libraries and parks and services for the most vulnerable.  When we see services slipping away and our taxes on the rise, then we have to ask, “how is the taxpayers’ money being spent”?  I think we are not honest about what the cumulative taxes and fees really are, as they are spread across various sectors.  I think real or perceived, we fail to grow our revenue base because business is opting out of Montgomery County. 

Thoughts on Bethesda and the Future: My vision for Bethesda over the next 30 years re-imagines a county no longer focused on a 1950’s suburban bedroom community, but recognizing our future rests in establishing urban density for jobs and housing around our transits centers.  This kind of growth also respects our more traditional neighborhoods.  I envision parks, trails and green space which make density inviting and livable.  I will work for systems and processes that invite development of walkable, affordable communities for multigenerational residents.  I pledge to work for systemic changes in our processes that provide reliability for industry and commerce as well as fair expectations for residents.

I think smart growth must be part of the Sector and Master Plans.  I think Master Plans need to be updated to account for transit-oriented growth. Examples such as the White Flint and GSSC plans reflect the right approach– infrastructure must happen before and/or simultaneously.  Further, we must be creative and exact as to financing instruments, public and private, to get the job done.  Finally, all stakeholders need to be part of the planning and the solution.

Becky on Education: A good teacher in a well managed classroom is a gift to our children.  Academic gaps have been closed in the early grades.  MCPS is a safe place where teachers remain engaged with children long after class time has ended.  Latino and African American parents tell me that expectations for their children are not as high as for Caucasian and Asian children.  We need more training for cultural competence, or stronger leadership on a school-by-school basis.  As budget cuts increase, time for art, music and physical education is limited.  I am also extremely concerned about the growing drop-out rate.

We need to expect more of our School Board.  When cuts are made to the budget (and there will be more if the Maintenance of Effort is waived), the School Board and the Superintendent need to look for the areas where there is the least impact on the classroom. Co-chairs of my campaign are teachers.  They have said “If it is not helping a child learn in class, start cutting.”  If the School Board is unwilling to make the serious examination of the budget for targeted reductions, then the Council must reduce funding proportionately, without good input from the School Board. 

We must look at the school budget;  it is 57% percent of our budget and must be reduced in a way that does not impact the classroom.  Further, we have to go back to our negotiated contracts with public employees and establish salaries and benefits that the County can afford.  I don’t think we should be proud of the fact that our Executive negotiated and Council funded contracts that we must now break, but that is the case.

Thoughts on Ambulance Fees: With all respect to our Volunteer Firefighters, I do support the the billing of ambulance fees to insurance companies.  It is $14M that we cannot afford to leave on the table.  We must be assured that no resident ever receives a bill, and be watchful about insurance rate increases, though actuaries indicate the rate changes because of this will be minor.  The fire service is already struggling with be under-funded.  This $14M only keeps the hole from being deeper.  However, I object to the rejection of the petition for referendum.  I think the people have earned a say on this question.

Thanks Becky! Please see here for more: www.beckywagner.org

Peter Dennis Running for Delegate District 16

Peter’s Bio:

I’m an Eagle Scout, a graduate of Boston College and have both a Juris Doctor (a law degree) and a Certificate in Public Policy from the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law.  During the past few years I’ve worked as a Legislative Correspondent for Rep. Chris Van Hollen, worked as a legal intern for both Common Cause and the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence, been sworn in as an attorney, and started a small business.

About the Purple Line:

The Purple Line is an outstanding idea. However, the decision to use above-ground tracks through the UMD campus is questionable, as it has been speculated that the electromagnetic field from the tracks could affect incubators in the University’s recently built labs. As your delegate, I’ll investigate the matter, and if such electromagnetic contamination does appear to be a real threat, fight to have an underground or an insulated cut-and-cover route used instead.

On Energy and the Environment:

1. Set up a progressively increasing tax on energy from non-green sources, and use the money to progressively subsidize energy from green sources.
2. Modify the far left lane of all major highways as “Green Lanes” which are free to use by HOV, public transportation, and fuel efficient vehicles, and charge a toll for all other vehicles using E-ZPass technology at a variable rate based on current traffic patterns.

Peter on taxes: Due to our budget shortfalls, I don’t believe tax cuts would be a prudent measure at the current time, but that said, our income and property taxes in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Potomac are high enough. That is why I’ve proposed we cut discretionary spending as much as possible and increase taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and gasoline, not to mention both the regulation and taxation of marijuana.

Thoughts on Growth: Bethesda’s fast growth is a natural consequence of its attractiveness as both a family-friendly community with good schools, and a business friendly town. To find a proper ‘balance’ we must accept the growth as naturally occurring, and continue to improve our infrastructure to meet the needs of the growing community. This can best be achieved with the construction of additional parking structures, the Purple Line, and the redevelopment of older parts of town while keeping our unique culture in mind.

Peter on Education: We currently need to do several things: 1. Protect funding for education in accordance with the Thornton Plan; 2. Protect full funding of the Maryland Teachers Pension Fund at the state level; 3. Decrease class size; and 4. Ensure our schools are designed to inspire an academic attitude rather than simply be functional buildings which look like jails.

We need to continue to build new schools, and renovate old schools with improved and expanded facilities. That is the only way to address classroom density. However, doing this, especially in light of the state’s budget shortfalls, requires us to seek new source of revenue.

On Ambulance Fees: The question over ambulance fees is more complex than most people realize, but I’ve decided I cannot support this policy. While most individuals have health insurance which would pay for such fees, the only people who would be forced to pay such fees are those individuals who don’t have health insurance, making the ambulance fees a burden on the poor. I would only support this measure if the county agreed to pay the fees for those who cannot afford to.

Economic and Social Ideas: I’ve advocated for the decriminalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana, as a recent study such a change in policy could save our state up to or possibly over $250 million/year in enforcement and court costs, while generating millions more in tax revenue. I’ve also proposed increasing the taxes on alcohol to the national average (we currently have the 2nd lowest alcohol taxes in the nation), raising the tax on cigarettes by 50¢ a pack, and raising the tax on gasoline by 5¢-10¢.

Speed Cameras: While there is evidence to suggest the speed trap cameras have made our roads safer, I’ve seen multiple vehicles brake suddenly and swerve when drivers don’t notice the camera until the last minute. I consider any device which causes such sudden and erratic driving to be a safety hazard and believe we should remove said cameras altogether. I am, however, in favor of more red light cameras.

Thanks Peter (Please check out his website here: www.peterdennis.net)

Daniel Vovak: Running for County Executive as a Republican

Daniel Vovak was one of many candidates who gave us his thoughts on issues ranging from schools to the economy –we thank all the candiates who did so and encourage the candidates and their staff to add/ clarify their thoughts in the comments section or by writing in.

BIO: DANIEL VOVAK is a ghostwriter of books and movies and the editor of Montgomery County Daily, a blog about Montgomery County. He has been covered in Washington Post, Associated Press, (Manchester) Union Leader, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and Sioux City Journal, in addition to appearances on NBC, MSNBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, and PBS. Vovak is a member of the Young Republicans and a lifelong member of the New Apostolic Church. Previously, he was a Rotarian and active in Kiwanis. He also leads the Cinema Lounge of the Washington, D.C., Film Society, a movie discussion group of film experts.

Daniel on the Purple Line: I support the Purple Line and believe the Ride On buses should be renamed “Ride On Time” buses, with drivers ranked based on their timeliness.

Interesting Energy Idea: I am always fascinated by the idea that people can create energy in their homes and add to the grid. I think this behavior should be rewarded.

Schools: Yes, Montgomery County Schools are tops in the nation yet people sense they are slipping. I don’t think people are complaining about our school board, though, even when the system did not work a full year last year. I disagree with the school board’s decision last year to over-use its allotment of snow days. There should also be a push for magnet schools, home schooling, and charter schools, should those decisions positively help the budget crisis.

I support hiring more teachers to reduce class sizes and by offsetting those costs with comprehensive school reform, which includes having a leaner administration.

My priority is county services over schools since the schools have ballooned to 57% of the budget and have risen over $1 billion in the past decade to now over $2 billion of a $4 billion total budget. WIthin the schools, my target of budget cuts will be reducing the number of administrators.

Ambulance Fees: I do not support the ambulance fees and am upset that the all-Democrat council approved them with a majority. It is repulsive that so many signatures were thrown out, too, (preventing it from being on the 2010) since the signers did not sign their names EXACTLY as they are listed on the ballot.

Thanks Daniel!!

His website is here:

http://ChangeMontgomery.com

Election Information!

Friends — we have received lots of really good info from local candidates running for office this cycle. Please check out the following series of posts and add to the discussion. And remember to get out there and vote in the primaries tomorrow!