Blair Lee's July 29 Close to Home piece about the Montgomery County executive race was based on the premise that Montgomery voters will not take the time to fairly assess Sid Kramer's record on growth, development and traffic congestion. I believe Lee underestimated Montgomery County voters, who will look at Kramer's record and that of his opponent, Neal Potter, before making a decision about who should lead their county.

Lee was right about one thing -- Montgomery County, like other area jurisdictions, is experiencing an economic downturn. Real estate sales and prices are declining, local retailers report softening sales figures and more unemployment might be next. Changes in federal tax and fiscal programs, including operating and subsidy cutbacks, threaten our economy. This is not the time to make a radical change in leadership based on a simplistic slogan of "no growth."

The fact is that, while there's still much to be done, Kramer has a record of restraining development and relieving traffic congestion. For example, under Kramer's growth policies:

More than 50 percent of the developable land in the county is now in a moratorium on growth. (In the other 50 percent there is almost no land left that can be economically developed.)

Developers have been forced to pay millions for the costs of growth -- specifically, they have already paid, or are committed to pay for, almost $85 million for new roads.

Taxes on development -- called impact taxes -- have been instituted. Revenues are targeted for roads necessitated by the development. Kramer supported impact taxes for the Germantown and Route 29 corridor, now in place, and the extension of such taxes to other areas as needed.

More than $600 million in state and county monies were committed to road projects aimed at relieving congestion (thanks to Kramer's working relationship with Gov. William Donald Schaefer), including the widening of I-270, the completion of Great Seneca Highway, the extension of Democracy Boulevard and the widening of Georgia Avenue.

Despite these facts, Montgomery County Council member Neal Potter accuses Kramer of being the cause of Montgomery County's growth and congestion problems. Yet:

Only 106 of 24,048 dwelling units built in the past four years were a result of plans approved and adopted since 1986, when Sid Kramer first took office -- meaning that about 99.5 percent of dwelling units built since 1986 were based on approvals and plans adopted by the county council, on which Potter served prior to 1986.

Potter voted to approve master plans -- from which all future development is derived -- for Bethesda, the Route 29 corridor, Germantown, Gaithersburg and Silver Spring, the very places about which he now complains.

In the past four years, Potter voted to approve four out of five zoning applications before the county council to increase density. The Montgomery County Sentinel reported that between 1981 and 1985 the county council "approved all but four of the more than 140 zoning applications {to intensify development}." The Sentinel described Potter as being one of two council members "who could almost never say no."

Potter supported a special loophole to allow expansion at the Montgomery Mall, thus increasing traffic on the already congested Democracy Boulevard corridor. Kramer, however, urged the closing of this and other development loopholes.

At various times, Potter supported increased Metro fares and Metro parking fees, which discourage commuters from abandoning the roads whose congestion he decries. He also now takes the position of indefinitely deferring the Silver Spring-Bethesda trolley, which would do much to relieve congestion on East-West Highway.

In addition to distorting the positions of Kramer and Potter, Lee's strained analogy between Montgomery and Fairfax Counties was also not borne out by facts. For example:

Unlike Montgomery County, Fairfax has no freeze on growth in most developable areas.

Unlike Montgomery County, Fairfax does not have a system to guarantee that no growth occurs without roads and schools to support it.

Unlike Montgomery County, Fairfax doesn't force developers to pay millions in taxes for new roads.

The real issue differentiating Sid Kramer from Neal Potter is not growth. The real issue is executive leadership capabilities and the ability to achieve a consensus in a diverse county and to act decisively.

-- Lanny J. Davis is chairman of the Kramer for County Executive Campaign.