Political activity, including endorsements and campaign contributions for specific candidates, will be high on the list of priorities at the Metropolitan incoming president R. Robert Linowes said yesterday.
Separate political action committees for the District, Maryland and Virginia will be established in time to involve the area's business community in next fall's elections, which include the race for mayour of the District and congressional elections in suburban jurisdication.
It will mark the initial entry of the metropolitan area's largest business group tnto active politics, although individual members of the board have been among prominent political donors in earlier years.
According to Linowes, separate committees representing business people in the three jurisdictions will solicit voluntary political contributions which the committees will apportion to candidates they select. Each committee will have from 7 to 11 board members, he added.
"The time had arrived for business people to identify candidates who support the free enterprise system and who respect the importance of economic development as a means of solving social, human and other community challenges," Linowes said in an address to a meeting of the group's board of directors yesterday.
"Our concern," Linowes later told several reporters. "is that whoever the candidates are, that they understand and respect the role of business in the community."
In the past, he continued, the local business community "has not sufficiently made is position known . . . we no longer want to be second class citizens . . . we're not asking for anythings more nor less than other groups which have banded together . . . we want to be up front on what we think is important."
Although it is too early to tell how many area firms will want to take part in the new political program, the Board of Trade represents 4,200 individual members and about 1.600 corporations in the Washington area.
Linowes, senior partner in the law firm of Linowes & Blocher and a leadin zoning lawyer in Montgomery County, takes over as Board of Trader president Jan. 1. A past president of the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, Linowes yesterday spelled out the goals he will seek to accomplish as Board of Trade president in 1978.
In his speech ot the board's director and the subsequent interview, Linowes emphasized his intention to devote most attention to a few secific subjects:
Greater emphasis on expanding membership, particularly among businesswomen, black business and small business, with a ooal of 100 new members; the dirve will be conducted in both the city and suburbs.
Consolidating programs to create new hons for urban youths, veterans 3rd ex-offenders by merging the board's human development bureau with the local National Alliance of Businessmen's program for summer jobs.
A concentration of lobbying and legislative efforts on development of 3 convention center in the city, proposals for regional solutions to such are problems as water supply, full water representation for D.C., seeking improvements in D.C.'s lobbying law, seeking more stringent requirements for unemployment compensation and opposing efforts to establish separate tax rates for residential and commercial properties.
Broadened communications efforts, including involvement of subroan chambers of commerce in board activities; Linowes said he will nominate several suburban chamber executives to serve as ex-officio directors of the metropolitan board.
The board is beginning 1978 with a record $1 million budget - the first to reach that figure and up from $950,000 in 1977. Linowes said dues to finance the board's expanded activites will be increased 10 per cent for most members.
As an individual, Linowes said the supports completion of the 100-mile area subway system as well as a regional tax to subsider Metro operations. But he said the question of whether to support such a tax has yet to come before the Board of Trade.
He said the second phase of a program to attract business and investment to the Washington area will begin next year, with a budget of some $90,000 already donated by area firms and associations.
On the question of property tax differentials, proposed in the District for commercial and residential sites, Linowes said the board opposes any program that "penalizes a segment of the economy."
Noting that no suburban jurisdiction has such a split in tax rates. Lonowes said if the city establishes a higher rate for commercial property, new business would be discourages from locating in D.C. Some urban areas follow a course of providing reduced or delayed taxes to encourage development, he noted.
In addition to Linowes, other new board officers for the coming year include president-elect, Oliver T. Carr. president of the Oliver T. Carr Co., vice president, Ralph W. Frey, vice president and general manager of Cheapeake & Potomac Telephone Co.; Secretary, John B. Duncan, Housing Development Association consultant; and treasurer, Donald T. Tollefson, managing partner here for Arthur Anderson & Co.