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What better way to kick off your holiday season than with an issues update?

With 2017 almost behind us, I wanted to share updates on some of the issues I’ve been working on recently:

Sustainable Energy: I authored a resolution, along with several of my colleagues, calling for bold reductions in greenhouse gas emissions: we committed to pursuing an 80 percent reduction by 2027 and a complete elimination by 2035. I also pushed to make sure that a second environmental resolution stated that, by 2020, dirty sources of energy (such as energy produced by our county’s waste incinerator) should lose the subsidies they currently get under state law. And I enjoyed attending an environmental briefing about the future of our water supply - hosted by various environmental groups - earlier this month. As I expressed in my comments at the briefing, I am concerned about threats to our water supply, streams, and watersheds and am committed to partnering with environmentalists to bring the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC), and the Departments of the Environment and Transportation together to protect our water as your next County Executive.

Efficient Transportation: Earlier this fall at the Transportation Planning Board (TPB) of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), I led the successful fight to oppose a second bridge across the Potomac, which would have been an enormous environmental and financial mistake. I have been advocating for years for the TPB to focus less on road construction and more on “mode share,” or a combination of improved transit and policies that support transit, including comprehensive parking policies. This coming week, COG is expected to approve this approach to planning. Especially if linked to the bus rapid transit (BRT) system I first proposed in 2008, which I plan to implement as County Executive, this policy shift will be a highly effective and economical way to reduce congestion. As I noted in my response to Governor Hogan’s recent proposal regarding transportation improvements in the area, we won’t solve our traffic issues unless we find ways to get cars off the road.

Living Wage: Along with workers, I led the fight to raise Montgomery County’s minimum wage to $15 an hour and orchestrated the unanimous passage of a bill that will do just that. This legislation will reduce poverty in the county and improve the lives of tens of thousands of low-wage workers and their families.

Responsible Development: I have been the only consistent voice on the County Council for development that respects neighborhoods and provides actual solutions for school capacity constraints and traffic congestion. For instance, when the council recently supported a zoning change that will grant 22-feet-in-diameter dish antennas essentially unrestricted access to the tops of buildings, I introduced an amendment, consistent with recommendations from current County Executive Ike Leggett and council staff, which would have limited that easy access to buildings higher than 200 feet (the amendment was unfortunately defeated). I was also the only “no” vote on the Rock Spring and White Flint 2 master plans, which the council approved this fall, because they did not match the county’s rhetoric about “smart growth.” Instead, they promoted increased density in areas outside of the widely accepted definitions of walkability and transit-oriented development, failed to require that development meet mode share goals, and failed to provide funding mechanisms for BRT. Truly smart growth would address these critical location and transportation issues, and as County Executive, I would consistently speak out about the need to put the “transit” back into “transit-oriented development” in these and future master plans.

As you may know, I am participating in the county’s new public financing system, which means I am accepting only small contributions between $5 and $150 from individuals and not taking a penny from corporations or other organizations (I’m also the only candidate running who has never taken money from developers). If you like some of the issues I’ve been working on and haven’t hit the $150 maximum yet, I hope you’ll consider making a donation. Especially if you live in the county, any amount you’re able to provide will go a long way towards helping to ensure a winning grassroots campaign.

Thank you, happy holidays, and I look forward to continuing to work on your behalf!

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