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?
Alvin Jones Arnett (R), 47, of 6318 Alcott Rd., Bethesda, is Conrail's assistant vice president for government affairs. Previously, he was president of the Nexus Group Ltd. of Bethesda, director of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity and executive director of the Appalachin Regional Commission.
Funds: The county executive certifies in his '83 budget that the loss of federal funds will amount to less than 1 percent of the $782 million budget. Thus, the problem isn't what it is elsewhere. Surely good budgetary control can accommodate a 1 percent shortfall. I would commit myself to that before looking at any new taxes, particularly property taxes. I would also pursue enhancement of revenues by user charges for services where only the few benefit (excluding handicapped, elderly and other less advantaged residents).
Housing: The county's official rhetoric on housing is somewhat like the sex lure trap to control gypsy moths. The words are enticingly attractive, the execution is frustratingly barren. Local public works infrastructure of sewers, roads and all the rest, which we pioneered in the Appalachian program, represents the launching pad for private sector development. Rather than using the lack of public facilities as an excuse for not building, we need to commit ourselves to putting the public facilities horuse before the private sector cart. Otherwise, we continue the shameful policy of charging an inordinate "admission fee" for new residents to join Montgomery County. I would support a new development fund for the county.
Population: At OEO Office of Economic Opportunity, we responded to their needs through an array of outreach programs at a time when they were still essentially hidden from official public view. There are now well tried models for use by local governments. Montgomery County tends to respond well, I believe. But we can do even more, and as a council member I would pursue affirmative actions to meet the needs of our new minority residents.
Views: That lengthy so-called "public hearings" may only mask a County Council precisposition on some vital issue seems, in many cases, to be quite probable. As a County Council member, I would expose such insidious characters.
Albert Ceccone (R), 36, of 8724 Preston Place, Chevy Chase, an investment and development counselor, has been president of a Lions Club and Jaycee chapter, director of the Silver Spring Multiple Sclerosis Committee and Lido Civic Club and a member of local Chambers of Commerce.
Funds: I enthusiastically support and eagerly accept the return of program responsibility and implementqtion to the local level. It is at the local level that public officials can best meet the demands of our citizens. In identifying local needs and by moving to fill these needs, it is imperative that elected officials understand the necessity for expanding the tax base. This trend toward local control over programs will help eliminate duplication of administration and provide a vehicle for saving money. In evaluating our current needs, it will become clear that some existing programs have already fulfilled their roles and must be eliminated and that some functions will have to be expanded. With some new revenues and with the return of tax dollars from the federal level, local government will operate effectively and economically.
Housing: I believe that an atmosphere should and can be created to foster development of moderate- income housing. At the outset, it should be determined the extent of the need. Then it should be determined where this need can best be met with regard to existing public services and facilities. Upon determining how many units should be developed to meet our county citizens' current need and where they should be developed, the county should assist in providing adequate public facilities where required, the county should quickly provide the necessary zoning along with zoning incentives where appropriate, the county should eliminate obstacles and expense in the permit acquisition process and the county should involve itself in both the interia as well as permanent financing of moderate-income housing.
Population: The county government can be sensitive to the needs of not only Hispanos and blacks but also to all citizens by providing quality education, superior police and fire protection, good transportation systems and convenient and well maintained recreational programs and facilities. There should be a conscientious effort on behalf of everybody in county government to eliminate discrimination and to remove unnecessary barriers with respect to the elderly and hadicapped. The government should provide the citizens of Montgomery County the services they require in a pleasant and cost-effective manner. It is also imperative that, as a priority of county government, the development of job opportunities through the expansion of the tax base must be recognized as essential to the maintenance of a high quality of life for all our citizens.
Views: The legislative process in Montgomery County is one of confrontation, not one of conciliation and compromise. From the serving of notices to the final legislative decisions the process pits the county's elected officials against the enemy (the concerned citizen) who is assumed to be either stupid or unwilling to work with these elected officials in solving their mutual problems. Careful examination of the backgrounds of the existing county elected officials will reveal that a majority of these people do not have the expertise or knowledge of the county, and it's people that are required to operate government effectively. This on-the-job training approach to the operation of government has created frustration for the current legislators and disappointment for our citizens. It's time to elect peopel to county government who have definitive expertise on issues which affect our citizens and who view their constituents as neighbors, not adversaries.
Sidney R. Overall Jr. (R), 59, of 5603 Surrey St., Chevy Chase, a writer, is a retired Navy captain. He has been a partner in a brokerage firm, a trustee of the Hospital for Sick Children and active in Republican political campaigns. He is a member of the Montgomery County Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Funds: First, prioritize most necessary programs. Investigate those federal programs which are still viable (Sec. 8). Tailor the county's needs to areas where funding might be found.
Housing: County funds must be used to provide adequate facilities (roads, sewer, water). Cut red tape in both Park and Planning and WSSC Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission procedures. Rkvise master plans with an eye to common sense and intelligent growth in core areas. Innovative financial packages should be explored.
Population: Education is key here. Quality education must remain a county hallmark. Special emphasis should be given to quickly absorbing minorities into the community. Education, as well as cultural programs, provides the way.
Views: Amen. Too often hearings are pro forma and an exercise in visibility for council members. Unfortunately, they fail to reflect legitimate concerns. The Council shouldhave the guts to study the problem, listen to all sides, then make a decision and stick to it.