Thanks to Bethesda Beat for their illuminating coverage of the Realtors Forum for county executive candidates.
We’ve Got Questions, He Still Doesn’t Have Answers
When David Blair announced his candidacy, he refused to take a position on the county recordation tax hike, saying “There will be a lot of opportunities to talk about specific policies.” After much rumination, his refusal has evolved into waffling:
David Blair, was less definitive in his answer.
Blair said he would’ve combed the county budget for savings before resorting to raising the recordation tax. When pressed about whether he would’ve voted yes or no on a tax increase, Blair acknowledged that the county in 2016 was “in a really particular jam” in light of the education infrastructure needs.
“I believe I would’ve been able to find those savings,” he said. “If I couldn’t have found the savings, presumably we would’ve had to raise the recordation tax.”
He said he’d like to roll back the tax increase, if he can find budget savings to replace the lost revenue.
In short, Blair continues to do his best to prove Gus Bauman correct in his claim that Blair lacks enough political knowledge and experience for the job of county executive.
Too Much Time in the Planning Department?
Former Rockville Mayor and Planning Department Deputy Director Rose Krasnow has some interesting housing advice for millennials:
Candidates also were asked where they’d advise a young couple making about $100,000 annually to live in the county.
Krasnow said she’d probably tell the hypothetical couple to explore renting an apartment that’s an accessory to a single-family home. . .
Somehow, I don’t think “Move to Montgomery County, so you can live above your parents’ garage” is a winning slogan. In articulating the latest fad among planners, Krasnow inadvertently captured the nervous national zeitgeist of expectations of a lower quality of life than previous generations.
Allowing more accessory apartments into existing neighborhoods is a popular idea at the Planning Department. Existing neighborhoods wonder why plans for parking or additional infrastructure to accommodate new residents never accompany these proposals.
Frick Opposes Recordation Tax Increase
Alone among Democrats, Del. Bill Frick came out strongly against the tax hike in a county known nationally for its unusually high taxes related to buying and selling property:
“I think the recordation tax increase was a mistake,” he said. “And frankly, I’m sorry you were put through what you were put through.”
Frick said unequivocally that he’d seek to reverse the hike, if elected, and would lobby for more state funding to address school construction challenges.
This stance sets Frick noticeably apart from candidates like Roger Berliner, David Blair and Rose Krasnow who are also trying to position themselves as pro-change, pro-growth and pro-business candidates.
While the other candidates either waffled (Blair) or favored the increase as necessary for school construction (everyone else), Frick took a definitive public stance against it. Frick’s willingness to stand out on this and other issues looks smart in a field with many candidates that voters have trouble sorting out.
I don’t know if Bill won any new friends at the forum but he should have for (1) taking a stance the crowd supports, (2) even though the stance will be unpopular with other Democratic constituencies, and (3) his willingness to be clearcut about it.