Montgomery County is a vibrant, diverse community that is home to growing technology, health, as well as service sectors, but it is not immune to the growing economic and social inequality afflicting our nation. Poorly planned, developer driven growth has resulted in the state’s most overcrowded schools and congested roads. Sustainability begins with a sensible development policy.
In accord with Green Party values, I will support a living wage, affordable housing, and development strategies that recognize the limits of growth, prioritize the transition to 100% renewable energy, protect our eco-systems, and our over-burdened transportation infrastructure. I support building community through support for our recreation programs, community colleges, citizen roundtables, mentoring programs, and sanctuary for the most vulnerable among us.
BUILDING A GREEN ECONOMY
If we are to build a sustainable community, we must aim to build a carbon neutral economy. The County should commit to achieving 100% renewable electricity generation by 2035 as many other localities have done, and running heating and transportation on renewable energy by 2050.
- Restore requirements that set minimums for renewable energy generation in all new buildings that were removed from our Green Construction Code.
- Actively encourage regenerative agriculture in our Agricultural Reserve to sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
- Enroll county government buildings in community solar programs to encourage the building of local solar energy production.
- Begin to transition all government vehicles to electric vehicles and all transit to renewable, electric power.
- Close the coal fired Dickerson power station and the Dickerson incinerator and replace them with renewable energy producers.
Our development policies are unsustainable. Development concentrated along the I 270 corridor has resulted in congested streets and overcrowded schools. At the same time schools in the East County are below capacity. We should rebalance our development policies between East county and west. We should do this within a framework that recognizes that there are limits to growth if we want to maintain our quality of life.
- All new sector plans should identify how they will pay for the needed infrastructure to support them.
- The most densely populated parts of the country are invariably those with the highest local taxes and highest cost of living. We need to recognize this fact and use it as a guide to how much growth we want.
- Establish a Department of Planning and Sustainability as Portland has done to coordinate development plans with sustainability goals.
- Build a transit system for the 21st century that would include flexible transit and micro transit as ways of integrating neighborhoods that are not well served. Build the Bus Rapid Transit system.
- Immediately address areas of the county that have failed to get relief for congestion such as Clarksburg. Improve existing roads in the area and plan for rapid development of transit options.
- Plan East County development around the RT 29 BRT, supplemented with a micro transit system to reach into local neighborhoods.
- Encourage foot or bicycle traffic by making our roads more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
We must plan to transition to a sustainable, local, Green economy. We have given $80 million to corporations in the last five years and yet have had virtually no growth in new businesses. Our county bureaucracy has become ever more unfriendly to local businesses. Three quarters of county business establishments have fewer than 10 employees. A vibrant local business community is our path to a sustainable future.
- The County should support local businesses, especially cooperative businesses, and locally owned banks that will re-invest in the community.
- Promote coop banks, consumer unions, and other locally owned financial institutions which will invest more of their funds on local needs while being less vulnerable to the kind of financial malfeasance that brought down the economy in 2008.
- The County should establish a County Bank where it would invest all of its income and which could provide the County with low interest loans.
- Follow the example set by Oakland which established a Green Job Corps to train youth for the green economy.
- Teach green job skills in schools as D.C. now does with its program that trains students to become green roof technicians.
- Support workforce investment partnerships with educational institutions and employers that lead to jobs with medical benefits.
- Reform the County bureaucracy so that responds to the needs of the people
BUILDING A JUST SOCIETY
We face a widening divide between the wealthy and the rest of us. The trend toward concentration of wealth in fewer hands while the middle class stagnates and poverty increases is unsustainable. It distorts the economy and corrupts the political and legal systems.
- Continue to raise the minimum wage to create a living wage.
- Require companies that contract with the county to reveal the ratio between the highest paid executive and lowest paid workers and use that as a factor in determining bid winners.
- Reinstate the millionaires’ tax.
- Support efforts by workers to unionize.
To promote a just society we must ensure equal opportunity before the law to everyone. We must ensure our police force is highly trained in conflict resolution strategies and is aware of the dangers of implicit bias.
- end the use of the money bail system which results in the incarceration of the poor who cannot afford bail.
- treat drug addiction as a health issue not as a crime and divert resources from drug enforcement to other areas.
- end the disproportionate incarceration of people of color, racially motivated policing strategies and racially biased minimum sentencing.
- Insure that investigations into complaints against the police begin promptly and lengthen the window for filing complaints.
- Create civilian review boards to investigate complaints.
Foreign born residents now make up a third of our population. They need to be guaranteed an environment that is safe and secure. On the national level ICE has pursued an increasingly abusive policy toward all immigrants that must not be tolerated. Montgomery County must become a sanctuary community for its citizens.
- ICE raids are terrorizing our immigrant population. Family breadwinners are being torn away from their families, leaving them destitute. Abuse of detainees is common. This is unacceptable. We must offer a safe haven for all of our residents.
- The County should offer financial support to people facing deportation proceedings since they do not get public defenders. Immigrants detained by ICE are much more likely to get favorable judgement from immigration courts.
PROVIDING FOR THOSE LEFT BEHIND
Renters are being squeezed out by rising costs. We need to protect renters by instituting mandatory rent stabilization guidelines, strengthening renter protection laws, and providing more resources to code enforcement to prevent unsafe living conditions.
- We are tearing down more affordable housing than we build. This is a losing strategy. We should preserve and retrofit existing affordable housing,
- We must enact mandatory rent stabilization guidelines and enact more renter safeguards such as a just cause eviction rule.
- The County’s housing department is still organized the way it was when we were a suburban, household community. Since 40% of our residents are now renters we should reorganize the department to provide more support for renters. We need more resources devoted to code enforcement to prevent tragedies such as the explosion at the Flowers Branch apartments.
Our schools are increasingly overcrowded due to poor planning and are becoming segregated into wealthy districts and poor districts. Soaring college costs saddle students with a choice between lack of education and crippling debt.
- We must ensure that all schools have access to equal resources and all students access to programs that they need such as AP classes and magnet schools.
- We should implement a universal pre-k program and free college tuition.
- The County cut it’s per pupil expenditures on schools after the 2008 recession. We should restore spending to pre-2008 levels.
- Expand career and technical education programs such as the one offered at Edison High School.
- Provide access to dual-degree programs where students can leave high school with both a diploma and a two-year community college certificate in specialized areas.
Rural areas have suffered under our increasingly international economy, losing schools, health facilities, banks and jobs. We need to build community based, green economies to return jobs and investment to these areas.
- Encourage the establishment of locally owned banks that will keep money in the local economy; and cooperative investment groups like the Montgomery County Investment Cooperative which makes micro-loans to businesses in the community.
- Maintain existing schools in rural areas. Resist pressures to move resources to more crowed districts.
- Ensure that the county has adequate medical facilities in rural areas to meet the needs of the population.