State Sen. Charles W. Gilchrist, the Democratic nominee for Montgomery County executive, yesterday, issued a statement outlining his general strategy for reducing the size and expense of the county's government but declined to list specific programs he would target for cost-cutting.
In both his statement and his comments at a luncheon interview with Washington Post editors and reporters, Gilchrist criticized his Republican opponent, Richmond M. Keeney, for making cost-cutting proposals which Gilchrist said were simplistic and poorly thought out.
Gilchrist also said with a sarcastic edge in his voice that his opponent's cost-cutting proposals "wouldn't lose anybody any votes."
A spokesman for Keeney's campaign responded for Gilchrist's statements by saying, "We do have specific plans, and Mr. Gilchrist simply cannot make up his mind."
By contrast, Gilchrist said that while he would begin by reducing the size of the executive staff, he is not in favor of hiring freezes, such as the one Keeney has proposed. These freezes "do not sort out unnecessary jobs from needed ones or essential services from waste . . ."
His remarks came against the camment proposal which, if passed by county voters, would reduce revenues by a minimum of $25 million, according to current estimates.
Gilchrist yesterday said he is "sympathetic" to the feelings that spawned the TRIM (Tax Relief in Montgomery) charter referendum, but opposes the referendum itself. In addition, he repeatedly said he has not decided where he would cut the budget if TRIM passes, partially because most sharp reductions would affect the livelihoods of county employes.
He also said he did not anticipate announcing any TRIM or deficit related reductions or his plans for eliminating "unnecessary positions, duplicative programs and sloppy management" prior to the election.
"I'm not going to sit here and give you a list to solve the fiscal problems of the county so you can write stories about it," said Gilchrist. "If you want specifics, well . . . " he said, throwing his hands in the air.
"The people know I can take tough positions on serious issues . . . and that I intend to take a detailed view of specific agencies," he said. Gilchrist said he is in the process of appointing an advisory citizens' task force on governmental efficiency to help with that job.
In his statement, he listed some of his cost-savings strategies: consolidation of agency budgets in an Office of Management and Budget, more efficient executive staff management of 30 county agencies and more part-time government posts shared by two people.
In discussing the role of the executive, he declined to criticize severely incumbent James P. Gleason, the stubborn, individualistic two-term Republican executive.
But he said he believed that the executive must be a better manager and politically more successful in representing the county in the region and to the state and federal governments.
"I intend to be very vigorous in my work to protect Montgomery County . . . but overall, I think Gleason over-did it," said Gilchrist.
In other comments Gilchrist, a tax lawyer and one-term state senator said:
It is "perfectly appropriate" to conduct drug arrests on school campuses . . . but it would be too bad to have to continue the police presence (on school grounds)."
He would establish monthly town meetings for citizens to meet with him as Prince George's Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr. has done.