Candidates for Montgomery County Executive and candidates for the County Council were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Funds: What should the county do to respond to anticipated losses in federal funds?
Housing: What proposals should the county consider to get more moderate-income housing?
Population: How can the county respond to the needs of its increasingly diverse population, including large numbers of Hispanos and blacks?
Views: Many citizens complain that, despite the county's rigorous public hearing process, citizens' views are not reflected in final decisions on such issues as the Laytonsville landfill and cable television. Your comment?
E. Dale Boyd (D), 42, of 8316 Exodus Dr., Gaithersburg, sales manager for William F. Hurley Co., has worked in sales/marketing for several local firms. He is active in community and civic groups, has worked with the Special Olympics and has served on Montgomery Board of Education advisory commissions.
Funds: Identify absolutely essential services. Have each county agency identify administrative staff, expenses, programs and staff it could do without if some reductions become necessary -- but be specific. Call upon individuals and corporate citizens to share cost savings or income producing ideas with the county, offer incentives, i.e. percent of savings. Support county and state efforts to attract corporate citizens (jobs, revenues, etc.). Explore viable user (not nuisance) taxes, i.e. toll roads.
Housing: Employer (major) sponsored housing, with employes having first choice. Pension funds could be used as leverage to deal with local lenders, then local builders to construct housing either on the employers' property or nearby, thus eliminating lack of transportation as a concern. Payroll deduction guarantees payment. Morale and productivity would increase, in my opinion. Equity sharing with homeowners, builders and lenders. Include impacted community very early in planning process.
Population: First, don't presume these groups as being so different. They are concerned with housing, crime, health, jobs, recreation, transportation, etc. Secondly, explore with them what makes them unique to the extent that their uniqueness will contribute positively to this county's quality of life. Solicit their constructive criticism and participation in the decision making affecting their neighborhoods and cultural integrity.
Views: The basis of the reality of that concern lies with top county elected and appointed officials who do not view their respective responsibilities as "public service." It is as if they view citizens as "the enemy" in some comstant struggle. The present administration is a self-serving group who simply patronize the citizens. Most of these officials have simply lost sight of for whom they actually work, the citizen and corporate taxpayers of the county! The merit system has a built-in process of favoritism regardless of qualifications. Every department head should be reexamined on the basis of his or her competency, on-the-job performance, understanding and articulation of where their respective departments have been, are and are going and most importantly how they relate to their staff. If any of these heads do not measure up to those basic levels, they should be terminated. The executive has too much authority in appointing heads of departments. I will seek to amend that.
Audrey J. Carpenter (D), 50, of 1 Treworthy Rd., Gaithersburg, a public health nurse, was a member of Rosalyn Carter's former mental health committee. She is a member of Women for Equality and the Montgomery County Employees Association.
Funds: Remove the causes for excessive spending so those monies could be used for at least some replacement of lost federal funds. County should reevaluate priorities to include bond issues, capital improvements, Laytonsville Landfill -- to be corrected by proper, remedial actions. Strict enforcement of the merit system law so that monies are not used fighting grievances, expensive lawsuits, etc.
Housing: Competitive contracting to allow actual construction of a home, apartment, condos, etc., and "short pipeline time." This allows small-business builders to be competitive. The small builder does fulfill this phase of building often cheaper and many times faster. The small builder cannot afford the ante required in the "long pipeline time" required by the government to produce a tract of ground to build on. Competitive building to greatly reduce delay barriers, allowing construction to progress sooner and cutting the construction cost of home and rental projects to avoid rising cost of materials, labor, etc.
Population: Those sponsoring immigrant-refugee type individuals should be responsible and fulfill sponsorship. The Board of Education should endeavor to provide education, reeducating, etc.. On-the-job training and outreach program with emphasis on encouraging the non-English speaking to make use of the programs more than they are doing to afford them an opportunity for employment and to become self sufficient as much as possible.
Views: The public hearing process fails to inform the public by its numerous executive sessions (closed-door) until after a decision has been made. The council has not adhered to Section 76A of the Maryland code, which requires that meetings be open except when police and medical matters are being discussed.
Henry B. Heller (D), 41, of 12706 Turkey Branch Pkwy., Rockville, a special education teacher, is president of the Wheaton Woods Civic, Montgomery County Education and Montgomery College Alumni associations. He has been active in local Democratic groups.
Funds: Montgomery County must fill federally created gaps in the social safety net. Health, nutrition and educational programs must be maintained. In order to ensure continuation of necessary services at current levels, we must assess in detail the operating budget of the county in an effort to eliminate duplication of functions and streamline administration. For instance, consolidation of data processing could save significant funds which could then be translated into service dollars. The budget for consultants must be examined and pared back. In many areas, county employes possess sufficient expertise to provide the same services for which we presently contract out. The cost savings could be significant in this area as well. The county also should review the possibility of sale or lease of obsolete property, such as unused school sites.
Housing: The major effort should be a commitment to find revenue to implement the new housing policy, including support for the Moderate Priced Dwelling Unit Ordinance. The Housing Opportunities Commission policies, zoning regulations and the "staging" policy should be examined and utilized. Whenever feasible, scattered housing should be encouraged. A major effort should be made in reducing the tension and anxiety that currently exists between homebuilders and citizen organizations.
Population: All too often, public officials and candidates make patronizing statements toward groups, such as the elderly, the handicapped and minorities. Unless campaign rhetoric is transformed into programs of service or economic opportunities for these various populations, we will not begin to solve our "human" problems. Administration of housing, health care, transportation and education programs should be streamlined so that eligible citizens will have access with dignity to programs designed for them. The county must assure all individuals equal access to information and services. This should be accomplished through the greater use of multilingual county and school employes whenever possible. The provision of education services, especially vocational and adult education, are of utmost importance in assisting minorities to reach their full potential. Equal employment opportunities must be assured at all levels of county government. Adequate and convenient day care is a must for all our citizens, but especially for those of limited English-speaking ability who are striving to improve their financial status.
Views: Public hearings should not be a forum for a plebiscite, but rather as a forum in which all interested parties can express a viewpoint and provide new or additional information and insights for the benefit of elected officials. As a member of the council, I would respond to the substance of the testimony received at a public hearing rather than to the intensity of the pressure.
Neal Potter, (D), (Incumbent) 67, of 6801 Brookville Rd., Chevy Chase, an economist, has been a member of the County Council since 1970 and has served on various Council of Government panels. He is a board member of the Capital Area United Nations and World Federalists associations.
Funds: Social cuts in services seem inevitable, but continued progress in increasing the efficiency of local government will keep the cuts moderate. More equitable taxes (for example, better tax assessments, eliminating unjust concessions, such as farm-value assessments for high-value speculative land) would help secure needed revenues without increasing the heavy taxes paid by homeowners. Further help could come from levying motor fuel taxes adequate to pay for roads now paid for out of property taxes and by charging higher fees for services now provided by the county free or at unduly low prices. Continued cooperation between county officials and the private, business sector can gear education and training programs to match employment opportunities in the county, thus reducing unemployment.
Housing: The county already has a substantial program developed in recent years. It requires that new subdivisions have at least 12.5 percent of their homes in the moderate price range (currently, $47,873 for a two-bedroom town house, including closing costs and brokerage fees), and it provides low-interest loans from the proceeds of tax-exempt bonds. It also uses federal support programs for low-income tenants and low-cost builders. It can go further in the work of reducing costly red tape, which has small value in protecting the buyer or the community at large. However, the area of greatest hope for reducing homebuyers' costs is in the development of a program of "indexed" mortgages, on which the interest rate will be 5 percent or 6 percent per annum, while the principal is adjusted in proportion to inflation. I am actively promoting this proposal at the local and national levels.
Population: In the Montgomery County public schools, the number of Asian students has increased more rapidly during the past 10 years than the number of Hispanic students. The county has responded to the need of providing classes for students with limited English proficiency by providing funds to nearly double the number of positions in the ESOL program during the past five years. The county has continued to provide funds for Head Start and educationally disadvantaged students. Some minority students benefit from these programs as well as nonminority students. Adult education provides more than 50 classes each year for more than 5,000 adults who need help in speaking, reading and writing English. Educational programs for both children and adults have been given high priority by leaders of minority communities. The county should continue to respond by providing funding for these programs and by working with leaders of these communities to solve community problems.
Views: The county council provides the most complete advertising, public hearings, public work sessions and citizen participation of any local government that I know of. It is not always possible to provide needed public facilities, such as the Laytonsville Landfill, that serve all the citizens of the county and satisfy citizens in the immediate vicinity. The Laytonville Landfill has had hundreds of hours of public hearings and work sessions and more than $1 million of consultant studies devoted to it. It will continue to have close monitoring and independent expert reviews. To ensure a fair, impartial process, cable television has been handled by independent consultants and staff, plus a citizens review committee and numerous public hearings and advertised public processes. In addition, all private communications are prohibited, and all the leading personnel in any company applying for the franchise are barred from taking any part in the county's election process, to prevent political influence from affecting the decisions.
Jean G. Ross (D), 60, of 19715 Greenside Terr., Gaithersburg, is a member of the planning committee for Maryland Hospital Association and boards of directors of CROSSWAYS Inc., Montgomery General Hospital and Montgomery United Way. She has belonged to numerous community and government organizations.
Funds: The county government must provide leadership in the development of positive interactions between the public and private sectors in all areas possible. Loss of federal funding should be an added impetus to avoid service duplication and maximize cases effectiveness. Public and private agencies and departments cannot afford and are not equipped to take over the others' responsibilities. We cannot simply have committees to study problems. The county must determine relative priorities of education, jobs, health, safety and social services for the county's population. Working with appropriate groups, combined efforts to address these needs can be accomplished. The county should respond to special population needs of the seniors, disabled, etc., and ensure housing opportunities for its young families and encourage their fresh inputs into county problem solving. The county does not have the luxury of indefinite time but must move thoughtfully and decisively to serve its residents.
Housing: The County Council, through its budgetary and legislative responsibilities, should encourage and assist in increased economic development with mixed uses which are energy efficient and include residential opportunities with flexible types of housing. An essential element in the county's program of staged development requires the council to provide a functional system of roads, Metrorail and buses to service the residents, local business and industry. The Council, having adopted a general master plan for the county and some segment plans, must fulfill its commitments for growth management by having its public facilities adequately keyed to housing needs, including sufficient numbers of moderate income housing. As part of the council's attempt to broaden its economic base, building incentives must be provided by coordinating code requirements to maintain safety measures, streamlining permit processes into logical progressions, rather than frustrating costly delays and permitting use of the county's good faith and credit where appropriate.
Population: The government should recognize that the county's diverse population provides a rich potential source of cultural exchange and constructive new ideas. It should not settle for just tokenism but should seek to develop effective human interactions and appreciation of various contributions from minorities and majorities. The Hispanos, blacks, Asians and other residents need access to housing, training, jobs, health services and security. The county must determine that eligibility requirements are presented through appropriate mediums for language recognition and identification of available social services, personnel procedures, health agencies and housing opportunities. Self-reliance and economic stability can be encouraged through assistance in legal, employment and tax requirements involved in establishing a small business or partnership in the corporate world or agricultural applications.
Views: Unfortunately, the public hearing process, while extensive, is often too late and too interspersed. The council's legal responsibility requires hard decisions for good government, health, safety or welfare of the county. Proposals are developed and presented with hearing schedules determined. Hearings have been continued indefinitely and issues restudied at additional costs. It could be advantageous to start with a broad based group of citizens, technical experts and county staff considering the problems and providing insightful approaches for solutions. When the announced hearing schedules are completed, the council's work session and decision making should proceed without further hearings and constant delays. These open processes must continue, and the county staff and council must continue to avoid conflicts of interest. Early inputs may reduce confrontations, and decisions can be made in a more timely fashion without costly delays.
David L. Scull (D), (Incumbent) 39, of 9315 Greyrock Rd., Silver Spring, a lawyer, has been a member of the County Council since 1981, when he was named to replace the late Elizabeth Scull. Previously, he was a member of the state House of Delegates and he has been cited by common cause for his legislative skills.
Funds: To maximize our ability to relieve needy victims of federal cuts (we substituted county funding for the working poor and handicapped this year) and minimize local layoffs, we must control county spending, maintain an adequate reserve and improve tax equity.
Housing: Maximize county's highly successful low-interest mortgage revenue bond program ($34 million so far in 1982, financing 700 first-time homebuyers; loans averaged $52,000 at 13.4 percent). Follow recently adopted housing policy, allowing town house development along major transportation corridors. Allow elderly homeowners to rent unused part of home to renters, such as single parents, under controlled conditions.
Population: As state delegate and now council member, I authored state and county laws to channel 10 percent of all public procurement dollars to minority businesses; results have been very successful. We have agumented finding for English language training at diverse Blair High School. Increase emphasis on high-tech training.
Views: We benefit enormously from the input of our thoughtful, knowledgeable citizens. Final decisions on controversial issues seldom satisfy all parties. I worked for the state's "sunshine" law for state and local agencies and authored the county's pioneering "sunshine" law for condominium and homeowner associations. I authored the county's tight restriction on cable applicants political activities.