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?
Ronald S. Bird (R), 38, of 9544 Watkins Rd., Gaithersburg, a Montgomery County police officer, is program director and an instructor at the Montgomery County Police Academy. He served on the county Disability Retirement Hearing Board and the Fraternal Order of Police negotiating committee.
Funds: The county government must have a strong county executive and a county council that can work with him to determine those programs which have the highest priority according to the needs and desires of the citizens. Once there priorities are established, they must determine which programs should be funded and those which the county ca-not afford to support, thus establishing a list of programs to be carried on as needed as long as the county, or county and state, or county, state and federal governments have the revenue for them.
Housing: The county government should work with developers and citizen groups to establish more adequate moderate- income hous-ng for our citizens. We must establish possible avenues for monetary funding in a manner in which the county is not of the source of revenue but possibly the organizer and backing for such funding.
Population: We must insure that equal opportunity is available to all our citizens. We should not concentrate on any specified minority, but work to provide opportunities for housing, employment, education and recreation for all our citizens in every part of Montgomery County.
Views: The Montgomery County Council has been smug with the citizens and employes of the county for the past 12 years, mainly, I feel, because they feel the Large Democratic majority of voters supports their views. I feel the citizens of the county finally realize they are not being heard but have been used by the county council to further their self-righteous political careers and opportunities. The citizens need and want a change, and many feel this is the time to have a more representative government that will be responsive to the needs and desires of the citizens of Montgomery County.
Alan S. Zipp (R), 34, of 2425 White Horse Ln., Silver Spring, as accountant, has been a director of the Silver Spring Jaycees, vice president of the Layhill Village Civic Association, audit manager for the U.S. General Accounting Office and an investigator for a House energy subcommittee.
Funds: Montgomery County has an obligation to ensure the safety, health, education and welfare of county residents. The reduction in federal support is a signal for the county to accept these primary responsibilities. As a result, budget priorities must be set and fiscal responsibility established to ensure that necessities are provided, while "luxury" expenses are deferred. It is critical that basic county services be funded from existing recurring resources. Necessary capital improvements, on the other hand, should be financed from a prudent combination of debt and equity. It is in the best interest of all county citizens to increase the number of residents and thereby spread the tax burden among a larger population. This population growth can be encouraged by legislative action to increase the availability of affordable housing. Legislative action is needed to streamline the housing development process, coordinate the building of roads and other public facilties and ensure the adequacy and availability of water and sewer services.
Housing: In order to increase the population growth of Montgomery County, it is necessary to take positive action to encourage the development of affordable housing. The current County Council has allowed a bureaucratic nightmare to exist and take over the entire planning and development approval process. There is a need to streamline and simplify the development process and thereby reduce some of the cost of housing development. The site plan approvals procedure must be modified by reducing the number and levels of review. Many of the new housing development plans are never realized because of inadequate public facilities, such as sewer, water, roads and fire and police protection. It is critical that prudent fiscal management techniques be used to ensure that public facilities are provided by public funds on a timely basis and in coordination with the plans of housing developers. Sewer and water expansion charges should be allocated to all residents on the system to ensure an equitable sharing of costs rather than applying such charges only the cost of new homes.
Population: Montgomery County is a microcosm of the nation. We are not a homogenous blend of any one ethnic, economic, religious or social class. We have diversity among residents and consequently we must address the specific needs of all residents. Where barriers exist to any group of people, the social welfare of the entire county suffers. It is critical that county services be made available to all residents, regardless of ethnic, religious, economic or social background. Where language is a barrier to communication, extraordinary measures must be taken to ensure the adequacy of coverage. The cost to print and make available information booklets written in Spanish, for exampel, is minimal when compared to the economic and physical costs to people because of a lack of services. County policies must ensure equal opportunities in every facet of life in Montgomery County, particularly in housing, employment, welfare and health care.
Views: The complaints that citizens' views are not reflected in final decisions of the County Council are well founded. The current County Council would rather engage in childish bickering among themselves than go out among the people and seek their advice. The weakest area of the current County Council is its utter reliance on studies by outsiders which support the preconceived conclusions of council members. It is absurd that those residents most affected by council decisions are not actively solicited for their views. The current County Council lacks the courage to address specific issues directly with the residents concerned. It seems far easier to hide behind a report prepared by an outside consulting firm than to confront local residents with the problem and seek their ideas toward a solution. The many problems facing the county are very complex, and simple answers just do not exist. However, by soliciting the views of local citizens, a variety of approaches can be identified and considered. This wealth of ideas seems to have been ignored by the current County Council.