Candidates for county executive were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Growth: A number of observers believe requirements such as citizen input into planning decisions and certain design standards have stymied economic growth in Prince George's County. Do you favor removing such obstacles in order to attract new economic development?
Schools: School Superintendent Edward J. Feeney said that the schools were anderfunded this year, causing the layoff of 507 teachers. County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan and other politicians maintained that the budget was sufficient and that Feeney's cuts were more dramatic than necessary. What do you think?
TRIM: Do you favor modification of the tax-limiting TRIM amendment? If so, what changes would you support?
Parris Glendening (D), 40, of 6911 Oakridge Rd., University Park, has been a member of the County Council for eight years, including two years as chairman. An associate professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, he is active in numerous civic groups and community programs.
Growth: The planning process must be streamlined to insure a timely final decision that protects the interests of the community and the property owner. It is possible to protect our neighborhoods, the environment and have high esthetic standards, and still have an agressive and productive economic development program. The major goals of my program are to: 1) preserve much of the far south county area for agriculture and permanent open space; 2) maximize quality high-density development around appropriate Metro stations and other transportation centers; 3) protect and stimulate redevelopment of our older communities; 4) insure a balanced housing stock; 5) protect the environment and the quality of life in the county; 6) work closely with the business community to insure quick decisions and to work cooperatively in the areas of creative financing and joint public facilities development, and 7) guarantee the rights of citizens and communities against unwise or harmful development proposals.
Schools: Our future depends on a quality educational system. Solutions to the problems of crime and unemployment require an educated public, and we cannot permit the loss of our superior programs. While substantial savings are possible in administrative areas, the massive reductions of this year -- more than $30 million -- must lead to deterioration of existing programs. Superior programs in music, science and math and for the handicapped are expensive, but must be maintained. Emphasis on basics for special populations requires adequate funding. Economic development, especially in the high-technology areas, requires a superior education system.As an educator for more than 16 years and a parent, I place a high priority on our schools. A cooperative effort between the executive and school board is essential. Modification of state school aid formulas is a preferable source of funding.
TRIM: I support efforts to arrive at an equitable modification of TRIM that would permit some flexibility in meeting public service needs, yet still keep property taxes within reason. I am working with the County Council of PTAs on their proposal. New growth should provide additional revenues, which it does not currently do. The modification will insure that business and commercial development pay a fair portion of county taxes. The main effort must be directed at greater state aid and operating at the county level in a lean, efficient and professional manner to insure the best use of the taxpayers' dollars. Regardless of the outcome of the vote on the TRIM modification, I shall, of course, effectively implement the will of the voters.
Ann Shoch (R), 42, of 13410 Reid Cir., Fort Washington, is a commissioner of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and is on the county's planning board. She has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the committee that helped bring the Capital Centre to the county.
Growth: Even though I view economic development as a major goal of my administration and feel that we must create a healthy business environment to stimulate and encourage new private investment and economic development in our county, we must not circumvent public input in the process. As a commissioner of park and planning, I have worked to streamline the process in order to assist economic development projects once citizen input has been gathered and presented. The planning decisions must have checks and balances in order to avoid any abuses in this program, and citizens' involvement is necessary and important.
Schools: Prince George's County has an educational system with one of the highest funded per-student ratios in the nation. If the allocation of our educational resources is properly directed, we will not have to abandon any program that would sacrifice the educational opportunities and potential of young people. In reviewing the education budget, I feel that advance planning, resource management and decisive administration could have avoided the layoff of 507 teachers. We must not use these difficult economic times as an excuse not to maintain the quality of our educators and the integrity of our school system. Our children demand the very best.
TRIM: No, I do not favor modification of the tax-limiting TRIM amendment. As one who carried petitions to insure that the injustice of overburdening property taxes did not drive us from our homes, I'm not in favor of the Plus Four tax increase; a 16 percent increase in property taxes during a four-year period for individuals on fixed incomes or young families in their new homes is unjustifiable. The growth of county government must not be allowed to return to its bloated state. The only kind of amendment to TRIM that I could consider acceptable would be a technical amendment converting the reference to a flat dollar to its equivalent shown in a percentage of total market value. Any amendment should be placed on the ballot during an off election year, as many local politicans use this to play to the fears of residents, fostering the politics of negativism.