POTOMAC — Three of the seven candidates vying to succeed the term-limited County Executive Ike Leggett explained their policies and positions in front of an audience of Indian-American voters on Sunday.
Hosted by the National Council of Asian Indian Associations at the Potomac Community Center, the candidates, show minimal disagreement, responded to questions on issues, including economic development, transportation, and hate crimes and violence, from Dr. Har Swarup Singh, the former ambassador of India to the Maldives.
Unlike the previous forums, only three candidates – former Rockville Mayor Rose Krasnow, current at-large County Councilmember George Leventhal, both running for the Democratic nomination, and Republican Robin Ficker – participated.
While David Blair and Del. Bill Frick (District 16) declined to participate in advance, an organizer of the event, who wished not to be named, said Council members Roger Berliner (District 1) and Marc Elrich (at-Large) initially confirmed their involvement but later declined to participate.
The participation of just three of the seven candidates allowed Ficker, Leventhal, and Krasnow more time to respond to each question with no timekeeper.
Singh opened the forum, asking how the candidates would attract new businesses.
Ficker, who provided the first response, said the County should attract Amazon’s second headquarters, which will bring “500,000 new jobs, paying $100,000 each.”
As the deputy director of the Montgomery County Planning Board, Krasnow explained that the County is “unattractive for business,” adding that she would lower the energy tax and change regulations she called “too strict.”
Being the only candidate on the stage serving in elected office, Leventhal mentioned his reputation for having the best constituent services, adding that he would appoint a task force to look into reforming business regulations.
When asked about how they would address traffic congestion, all three candidates laid out different approaches.
Not mentioning public transportation, Ficker said he would lobby the current Maryland Secretary of Transportation, Pete K. Rahn, for improvement to Interstates 270 and 495.
Krasnow said she would have a “balanced approach,” to ensure transportation infrastructure accommodates population growth.
Leventhal added that the State is primarily responsible for major transportation projects, with the County having a secondary role of requesting funds.
Opinions about school violence and hate crimes received applause across the room.
Krasnow said she was firmly against arming teachers and did not want the see schools “be turned into fortresses,” while also supporting a zero tolerance toward hate crimes.
“We need to remove the stigma of getting mental health (care),” Leventhal added. The current At-Large Council member explained that he supports stronger regulations at the State level to restrict the purchase of AR-15-style rifles.
As the only attorney on the stage, Ficker said he would flight hate crimes through the court system.
Toward the end of the forum, Singh asked the candidates their thoughts on the Indian-American community.
Leventhal explained his frequent visits to Indian temples and his interactions with Indian Americans. “When our diverse communities have asked me to visit … I’m eager and love learning about my constituents.”
Krasnow added she supported Del. Kumar Barve (District 17) during his campaign for the House of Delegates in 1990 and encouraged members of the audience to get involved politically.
Holding an engineering degree, Ficker explained that he interacts with many Indian Americans adding, he would staff his administration with “people that are very good at math and science.”