County Executive incumbent Ike Leggett won the Democratic primary on June 24 and will face Republican Jim Shalleck in November.
“There are no overriding huge issues that go to the core of where we are at a county, there are always challenges, there are always things that you can improve, but I don’t think there is anything that people can look at and say Montgomery County has fallen significantly short,” Leggett said.
Both candidates have plans for improving public safety that involve increasing the police presence in the county. Leggett said he is in favor of more funding for the police and attributed the county’s crime rate being three times below the national average to the growth of the police force during his tenure as executive. Shalleck said his main priority is public safety, particularly at schools.
“I have seen what evil can do to a family and a whole city,” Shalleck said. “I propose a uniformed police presence at all of our schools to prevent a terrible incident involving attacks on our children, teachers and staff. I want to eliminate all of the trailers being used as classrooms for over 10,000 of our children. They have no bathrooms and are vulnerable to attack.”
Shalleck said he supports privatizing liquor stores in the county, pointing out that Montgomery County – which makes $32 million a year from liquor sales – is the only county in the U.S. that owns and operates liquor stores. Leggett said he is “not wedded to the current system” but has not seen a plan that addresses the income the county would lose and the convenience for consumers.
“I pledge no new taxes and I will work to eliminate the bag tax which is a burden to consumers and small businesses. It sends a message that we are not business friendly,” Shalleck said.
Leggett said he opposes ending the bag tax since it is “relatively small.” The county spends $4 million cleaning up litter and the bag tax helps offset these costs, according to Leggett. Retailers keep 1 cent of the 5 cent tax on every bag and can be fined $500 to $750 for not complying with the tax, according to the county website.
“I think most people now have adapted to (the bag tax),” Leggett said.
Shalleck said his priorities are public safety, education, tax and government spending reductions, business recruitment and traffic congestion. Leggett said his top priorities are transportation, education, building affordable housing, long term sustainability and continuing innovative job creation.