Since the new term limits amendment to the County charter, preventing reelection bids for at-large incumbent Council members Nancy Floreen, George Leventhal and Marc Elrich, there will be at least three new At-Large Council members in 2018. Two more at-large candidates officially filed for County Council this week, bringing the total number of candidates to 11 for four at-large seats.
Will Jawando (Democrat)
Jawando, former District-8 congressional candidate and White House staffer, said he is running on a platform to keep the County’s promises to its younger families and senior citizens. Jawando worked as the associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement under President Barack Obama.
“The basic promise [is] you have a good school, a safe place to live, that you can retire with dignity and you can earn a living wage,” Jawando said.
On education, Jawando said he wants to encourage Montgomery County Public Schools to offer more work force development programs like the ones offered at Edison High School and to expand the County’s early childhood education programs.
“When you have a student that comes into kindergarten or the fifth grade that has no form of early childhood education, it’s a market disadvantage,” Jawando said.
On the economy, Jawando said he believes the County needs to look at its current regulations and perhaps eliminate those that overlap with the State or municipalities, to encourage economic growth. Jawando said he supports “smart growth” – which means encouraging development around the County’s transportation hubs to mitigate the impact on traffic – but the County needs to be cautious of how quickly it grows. For affordable housing, Jawando said the County should consider a 15 percent affordable housing unit requirement for new developments.
“We need to be careful for how we are growing,” he said.
On transportation, Jawando said he supports the Purple Line Project and the County’s proposed Bus Rapid Transit projects on state Route 355, U.S. Route 29 and Veirs Mill Road. Jawando said he also believes the County should consider a developer impact tax on new developers to fund infrastructure and capital projects.
“I think the developer taxes are always something you can look at, but I want to say this is not a silver bullet solution,” he said.
Mohammad Siddique (Democrat)
Siddique is an engineer by training and former deputy director for the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. Siddique said fiscal efficiency is one of his key issues, adding he wants to run the County budget more responsibly. He said the County could do more to put more efficient controls over its capital projects.
“They suddenly go over budget and above schedule and nobody asks if it’s fair to the taxpayers,” Siddique said.
Siddique specifically pointed to the Silver Spring Transit Center as a capital project that was a waste of taxpayer money.
The County sued the developers of the transit center claiming the center was built improperly built and behind schedule.
Siddique said the County could have avoided the lawsuit if it followed the project more closely during planning and construction.
“It is one big example of wasteful money,” he said.
Siddique also said means-testing of County welfare recipients is part of his plan for fiscal efficiency, to make sure the people who are getting County services are actually in need of them.
Siddique’s plan for economic growth would to give tax incentives to companies – large and small – so they can relocate or open in the County to create jobs. Also as part of his economic plan, Siddique said the County needs to fix roads in disrepair and give police more resources to fight the County’s issues with gangs. Siddique said the County’s gang problem is intertwined with economic growth because he said crime in the County discourages some people from moving here.
“Let them have some more resources and cut down on crime,” Siddique said of his plan to give more funding to police.
Siddique also said he wants funding for more capital projects for Montgomery County Public Schools to expand schools, hire more teachers and cut down on class sizes. Siddique said the state government should fund the school expansion projects.
“I would insist we should have more continued construction money from the state,” he said.