Tag Archives: economy

Roger Berliner on Jobs

Job growth has been stagnant in Montgomery County over the past few years. What would you do to encourage increased job growth?

Increasing prosperity — and having that prosperity shared more broadly — is the central platform of my campaign.  As in most things, achieving this will be a multi-prong effort:

1.  In our county, small business is big business. And for far, far too long, businesses in Montgomery County have seen our county as a foe, not a friend.  We need to be a partner to business, not an obstacle.  That is what prompted me to be the lead sponsor on legislation that created both the Small Business Navigator and the Business Solutions Group in county government — to put in county government resources that are intended to make life easier for our small business community. When we adopt new programs and regulations in our county, we need to make sure we are doing so in a manner that will not harm small businesses.  That is how I have done my work on the Council and it is how I will do my work as County Executive if I have the privilege of leading our great county.

2.  We need to attract businesses to Montgomery County. We have extraordinary assets. Amazon’s request for proposals for its new H2Q brought that home:  Montgomery put checks in all the important boxes.  Smart, skilled work force — check. Transit — check.  Vibrant urban amenities – check.  Awesome quality of life — check.  Diverse population- check.  Good government-check.  Strong, national business leaders-check.  We need to do a better job of promoting our county.  As County Executive, I will be a passionate, ceaseless champion of our county.

3.  What are the fundamentals that create economic growth and opportunities? A skilled workforce, which is why I have been the leading champion of workforce development; world class transit, which is why I have championed fixing Metro, building the Purple Line & Bus Rapid Transit and supporting Ride On Extra; affordable housing, which is why I sponsored legislation that requires our county to consider co-locating affordable housing on county property and increases the obligation of developers to provide affordable housing; creating vibrant urban nodes, with world class architecture, that attracts millennials and businesses like Marriott and Fox 5 to Bethesda; embracing innovation, which is why I led the way to create the Office of Innovation in our county government — we either lean forward or fall back.

4.  Build a “green economy”. Under my leadership, our county has become one of the most sustainable communities in our country.  Those efforts have not only led to our county government being “carbon neutral”, but to creating good green jobs.  Solar companies are thriving; energy efficiency firms are flourishing; composting and organic farming is growing; and our commitment to storm water management should increase jobs and job training opportunities.  A green economy is a healthy economy.

5.  Support our immigrant entrepreneurs. Immigrant-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the county’s economy. Often, these businesses need only a little help to get started. That is what motivated me to lead the effort to create our county’s first micro-loan program, modeled after successful programs around the world.

6.  Pay people a decent wage, which is why I support increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour consistent with the County Executive’s proposal.

My record on creating a more favorable economic climate in our county has led four Montgomery County Business Hall of Famers, past presidents of local chambers of commerce, entrepreneurs of the year, minority business leaders and green business leaders to endorse me.

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George Leventhal on Jobs

Job growth has been stagnant in Montgomery County over the past few years. What would you do to encourage increased job growth?

We have seen good news on job growth recently. County Executive Leggett’s office reported in January that the county had added 7,163 jobs since the previous January and in May that resident employment had increased by 10,900 jobs (not all located in the county) since the previous May. High-profile business location decisions recently have included Marriott’s decision to keep its headquarters in the county, Discovery’s decision to keep 230 jobs in Silver Spring rather than relocate them to Virginia, and WTTG/Fox 5’s decision to relocate to Bethesda from Northwest Washington.

Montgomery County has a great story to tell, but we need to do a better job telling it. Our quality of life is high; we have great public schools; honest and effective government; excellent cultural and recreational opportunities; beautiful natural features; proximity to airports, shipping routes, interstate highways and public transportation; high family incomes; a low crime rate, and a low unemployment rate. I supported creating the new Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation and am glad to see it is investing more than ever before in marketing our county’s excellent attributes to grow our job base and retain existing employers.

We have one of the smartest, most diverse work forces in the United States. We should advertise ourselves as the International Gateway to the Nation’s Capital, to attract employers from around the world and entice the talent our employers need to compete in the global marketplace. While our workforce already possesses more graduate degrees than any other community, and a wider array of language skills than most, we must make language education a higher priority in our schools. Language immersion should be expanded, especially in languages critical for global trade and national security, like Mandarin, Spanish, French, German, Hindi/Urdu, Arabic, Russian, Farsi, and Portuguese.

To appeal to the millennial generation of workers, and the generations that will follow them, we must continue our placemaking efforts, to build great urban communities in locations well served by transit, including Bethesda, Silver Spring, Rockville, Wheaton, and Glenmont, and we must expand transit options to economic opportunity hubs like Gaithersburg, Germantown and White Oak.

We should increase vocational training in our schools. The courses available at Edison High School are insufficient. Not all students will, or need to, attend college. Many good-paying jobs in industrial, manufacturing, information technology and other sectors can be filled by high school graduates with additional technical and vocational training.

We need to continue focused efforts to streamline our planning, permitting and procurement processes to see where they can be made more efficient and business-friendly. We must also strengthen our efforts to keep Montgomery County tax dollars in our local economy, by strengthening programs like the Local Small Business Reserve (which I originated), and minority, female and disabled business purchasing preferences.

I support designating Enterprise Zones to attract investment to areas that are struggling, like Glenmont and Burtonsville. I have also supported tax credits for investors in life science, environmental technology and cybersecurity, and I am currently exploring a county add-on to federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards. I will seek to reduce our county energy tax, which puts our high-tech and data-intensive businesses at a particular disadvantage.

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Marc Elrich on Jobs

Job growth has been stagnant in Montgomery County over the past few years. What would you do to encourage increased job growth?

Most job growth comes from new businesses expanding in the location in which they were founded.  Surveys indicate that the quality of life and the quality of public goods in an area – including transportation systems and schools – matter far more when businesses are making their initial location decisions than the taxes and other financial incentives they might be offered.

While there is a lot about the economy that is beyond our control – there’s no silver bullet for job growth – there is much that the county can do to create the conditions for businesses to start and thrive.  To the extent that we have cumbersome and inappropriate regulations, we need to change them, and to the extent that regulatory costs are excessive, we need to lower them.  More importantly, I would focus on incubating new local-grown businesses, nurturing their growth, and improving the county’s economic infrastructure.  Other jurisdictions have creative small business incubators and we can learn from their successes to grow a stronger local economy.  The empty spaces in shopping centers and office buildings were once filled with small businesses, and we need to nourish a new generation of entrepreneurs to refill them.

The bus rapid transit (BRT) system proposal that I initiated and have been advocating for during my time on the County Council also holds real potential as a tool for job growth.  Businesses have made an issue of the lack of transit as an impediment to growth.  If we want people to create startups or expand existing businesses, we need entrepreneurs to feel confident that their employees have a reliable way of getting to and from work, that their customers can get to their stores, and that they will be able to transport the goods and services they need to stay in business.

A well-implemented BRT system would reduce future congestion and move more people than roadways alone, making the county a more attractive location for businesses of all sizes.  It would greatly benefit residents as well.

We also need to work with the school system, including Montgomery College, to make sure our students are prepared for jobs that don’t necessarily require a four-year degree but do require post-high-school education.  And we should expand apprenticeship programs in cooperation with the building trades organizations that need the next generation of skilled workers.

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Bill Frick on Jobs

Job growth has been stagnant in Montgomery County over the past few years. What would you do to encourage increased job growth?

For far too long, our Council has been complacent with the status quo and at times even outright hostile to the private sector.  Resting on the expectation of stable employment from the federal government, the Council has been largely indifferent and even averse to growing the private sector economy.  We can no longer afford to talk about the need for job and wage growth and yet show no interest in facilitating business growth that creates those jobs.  As Norm Augustine likes to say, “you can’t be for jobs and against employers.”

From our notorious permitting process to our burdensome tax policies, we need to stop treating small business as the enemy.  Small businesses are the vital engine that will drive our middle class growth.  We need to reorient our administration to recognize that being punitive to businesses isn’t actually in our interests.

We must also foster and facilitate growth and entrepreneurship.  We benefit from an amazingly well-educated and creative workforce. But our women and men often find DC or Virginia or Baltimore to be more promising environments in which to grow and create businesses.  I want to enhance access to capital by building on our programs to keep local and state dollars in the community banks that are most likely to lend to small businesses, like I did at the state level. And I will help jump-start our hospitality, service, and restaurant economy by reforming or eliminating the Department of Liquor Control, a broken system that has functioned as a repellent to restaurants and consumers alike. I led this fight in the legislature, and will win this fight as County Executive.

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Lessons Learned from the Giant Tax Hike, Part Three

By Adam Pagnucco.

If the next County Executive and County Council want to prevent another Giant Tax Hike, they will have to do something that has not been done for years: seriously improve the county’s economy.  Otherwise, no budget reforms will be enough to pay for the county’s needs.

There are many ways to assess a local economy, but for the purposes of this column, let’s look at two big measures: jobs and income.  From 2001 through 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculates that total employment in the Washington metro area grew by 393,048 jobs, a growth rate of 14.6%.  In Montgomery County, total employment grew by 14,086, a growth rate of 3.1%.  Of 24 local jurisdictions measured by BLS, Montgomery’s job performance ranked 20th.  Among the large jurisdictions, only Prince George’s County fared worse.

Montgomery fared well in federal employment over this period, growing its federal jobs base by 18.9%.  That beat the metro area’s federal employment growth rate of 13.2%.  The county’s employment problems are concentrated in its private sector, which grew by just 1.0% between 2001 and 2016.  Montgomery’s private sector had 374,115 jobs in 2016, below its peak of 386,626 ten years before.  Over the last fifteen years, Montgomery’s private sector employment growth ranked 19th of 24 local jurisdictions.

In terms of real per capita personal income, the Washington region enjoyed a long period of growth that peaked in 2007, the year before the Great Recession hit.  In the eight years since, the region’s per capita income has struggled to increase for the first time in more than three decades.  Montgomery has a higher per capita income than the regional average, but it has suffered from a similar pattern.

Of 19 local jurisdictions tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), twelve had real per capita personal income gains between 2007 and 2015.  Montgomery was one of the seven jurisdictions that did not.  Its 1.7% drop is below the regional total of -0.2% and ranks 14th of 19 jurisdictions in the region.

In broad terms, the employment data and the income data agree: Montgomery County has still not recovered from the Great Recession.

The fragile state of the economy acts like a steel cage on the county’s budget.  The county’s needs in public schools, public safety, transportation, health and human services and countless other areas will not go away.  But unlike days past, the economy currently cannot generate the tax revenues to finance everything desired by those in office – and their constituents.  The county has passed four tax hikes since the Great Recession started – two property tax increases (FY09 and FY16), an energy tax hike (FY11) and a recordation tax hike (FY16).  Added to this is a series of recent laws imposing rising costs on employers.  While some local jurisdictions in the region (especially in Virginia) have passed tax hikes and the District of Columbia and Prince George’s have passed new employment laws, Montgomery County is the only local government that has passed both in significant magnitude.  There may be reason for that, but it has contributed to enormous competitive challenges for the county.

Progressive policies such as those favored by Montgomery County politicians cost lots of money.  That money can only be obtained over the long term through a robust economy.  Economic growth is affected by the totality of what the county does – its investments in education and transportation, its fiscal and taxation policies, its planning decisions and the nature of new laws and regulations it imposes on employers.  If any of these things negatively impacts economic growth, marketing programs, slogans and massive incentives for large businesses will not by themselves make up for it.

The Number One lesson from the Giant Tax Hike is that the next generation of county elected officials must prioritize job creation and income growth.  Failure to do so will result in more tax hikes and further long-term decline.

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Growing Our Local Economy and Shrinking Our Wealth Gap

By Ben Shnider.

To drive along Montgomery County’s I-270 corridor is to pass countless “For Lease” signs in front of near-vacant office parks. And to speak with service industry workers along this corridor is to encounter our community’s widening gap between the top 1% and other 99% — for whom it’s becoming harder and harder to afford living in the County.

How we address these twin challenges of affordability and economic development will define our community over the next decade. Thankfully, by proactively seizing every opportunity to prioritize smart growth, we can make significant progress on both fronts.

Consider the recent foreclosure sale of Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg. The mall was purchased for one-fifth of what the previous owner spent to acquire it in 2012. This drop in value coincided with, among other factors, the growth of the more walkable Crown Farm neighborhood about four miles down the road. The County is already studying a modernization of the well-used Ride-On transit center adjacent to Lakeforest Mall. A comprehensive mixed-use redevelopment of the property would complement this investment far better than retaining the dated mall by boosting foot traffic and economic activity. After all, the numbers are clear: walkable, transit-oriented areas in our region produce 80% more in retail sales than their auto-centric counterparts. And it’s these more walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods that have recently drawn many regional employers.

Mixed-use redevelopment of properties like Lakeforest can also be an important tool in addressing the affordable housing crisis in Montgomery County. Over one-third of County residents now rent and half of those renters are cost-burdened. Those looking to buy are often forced to choose between inadequate options that squeeze prospective buyers for unnecessary space and/or acreage. Walkable and transit accessible communities provide an opportunity for a broader range of housing choices. They also provide additional opportunities for existing affordability initiatives like the County’s Moderately Priced-Dwelling Units (MPDU) — a program that Gaithersburg and Rockville have also adopted.

Of course, there are challenges involved when re-envisioning underutilized properties like Lakeforest, including adequate public infrastructure, individual property owners in need of an incentive to relocate, and developers who don’t want to contribute their fair share for infrastructure improvements. In this case, the City of Gaithersburg — a leader in smart growth — has wrestled with these hurdles for some time. And, of course, not every mall in the region is failing. For instance, Westfield’s Bethesda and Wheaton malls are doing relatively well.

But these challenges can’t be an excuse for running on autopilot and the fact that some indoor shopping malls are doing better than others shouldn’t distract us from the overall trend. Instead, we must embrace opportunities to reinvent dated properties in the County with a sense of urgency. Otherwise our economy will fall behind those of neighboring jurisdictions, our residents will lack adequate housing and employment opportunities, and our government will lack the tax revenue necessary for critical investments like pre-K and enhanced access to Montgomery College.

The County, therefore, must work with our municipalities and the business community to leverage every tool at its disposal to move away from shopping malls and cavernous office parks and toward more sustainable and affordable communities — from master plans and zoning text amendments (outside of cities, like Gaithersburg and Rockville, that have their own zoning ordinances), to reinvigorated and innovative economic development and affordable housing policies.

This overall approach will help uproot the “For Lease” signs along I-270 while extending more economic opportunities to the low-wage workers working in their shadows.

Ben Shnider is a Democrat who is running for Montgomery County Council in District 3.

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Has Montgomery County Lost Its Economic Strength?

By Dr. Tom Ferleman.

[Editor’s note: Seventh State is pleased to present guest blogs from candidates for office.  The views here are those of the candidate and not of David Lublin or Adam Pagnucco.]

When I was growing up, Montgomery County was one of the wealthiest counties in the whole country.  Many of us remember when Montgomery County’s transportation infrastructure was second to none. Our schools were always ranked number one. We were the envy of the nation. Today, we’re thrilled when we’re in the top ten on any list.

Even Councilmember Craig Rice admitted that the Council no longer holds the County in such high regard.

In March of 2015, it was reported that while stumping in Germantown for more funds for the education budget, Rice told an audience, “We did not want to acknowledge, for a very long time, the fact that we had poor people coming into Montgomery County and that Montgomery County was changing.”

As was reported by the Germantown Pulse on March 19, 2015: [Rice] contends that County leaders waited a long time before we changed the perception of Montgomery County as a being full of millionaires who could afford whatever they wanted. “That was never a reality. We just never acknowledged it.”

It’s as if the County Council doesn’t understand how government works. Montgomery County lags the region in recovering pre-recession job levels. Despite six consecutive years of positive job growth across the region, Montgomery County had 0.6 percent (2,964) fewer jobs in March 2016 compared to the same month in 2006, indicating that job losses sustained during the Great Recession have not been fully recovered. In contrast, the wider Washington, DC metro area added 191,718 new jobs over the decade. Three jurisdictions together accounted for 70 percent of the region’s job expansion: The District of Columbia (82,397), Loudoun County (32,081) and Fairfax County (19,550).

While average may be good enough for some Councilmembers, for me, it’s not a passing grade. We must take active measures to boost our competitive advantage in the region.

If elected to the County Council, I will work to develop the mechanisms to make it easier for businesses to operate in the County (i.e. lower taxes, easier permitting and licensing, less traffic congestion, and a favorable education pipeline). While growing jobs locally contributes to providing a better quality of life, it also creates an entrepreneurial culture that promotes economic development for everyone.

Dr. Tom Ferleman is a Republican candidate for Montgomery County Council in District 2.

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Has the Montgomery County Council Backed Our Community into a Corner?

By Dr. Tom Ferleman.

[Editor’s note: Seventh State is pleased to present guest blogs from candidates for office.  The views here are those of the candidate and not of David Lublin or Adam Pagnucco.]

The County Council has raised taxes, overspent the budget and failed to grow new jobs locally. Montgomery County lost jobs while everyone around us was gaining them.

The pace and scale of property-tax increases over the last decade in Montgomery County are overwhelming. Since 1990, residential property taxes here have grown more than twice as fast as the state’s median household income. Residential property taxes now eat up an average of 6.4 percent of a typical household income in Montgomery County. In 1990, that share was 3.6 percent.  In this growing bite of household income lies the pain currently felt by homeowners, whose family budgets have been thrown into disarray.

Montgomery County taxpayers are paying more for schools which are below historic standards, roads which are more congested, and services which are stretched to the point of breaking. What are we paying for?

More often than not, when citizens talk about cutting taxes, some Councilmembers argue, “but how are we going to pay for services…” This is a narrow-minded answer to a reasonable question. We don’t have to cut services in order to roll back the recent tax increases.  In most municipalities, taxable revenue is based on a 60/40 split. Communities often receive 60 percent of their budgetary revenue from residential property taxes and 40 percent from commercial or business-based taxes.

However, in Montgomery County, that taxable revenue is based on an 80/20 split. That is, a whopping 80 percent of our taxable revenue comes from residential properties and only 20 percent from commercial properties.

In the past three years, Germantown has lost over 1,200 jobs, while a disproportionately high number of women in Montgomery Village have lost jobs in the same time frame. Property tax increases, an anti-business climate, excessive regulations and gridlock have harmed families.

Our families are bearing the burden of Montgomery County government’s entire budget on their backs. Property taxes have become a second mortgage that homeowners can never pay off – and an endless expense that grows more costly each year. When I was growing up, the family home was a retirement asset; now it’s a county tax asset. My strategy focuses on building our commercial tax base by growing businesses so that we can reduce the weight of residential property taxes.

Dr. Tom Ferleman is a Republican candidate for Montgomery County Council in District 2.

 

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Has the Great Recession Returned to Montgomery County?

By Dr. Tom Ferleman.

[Editor’s note: Seventh State is pleased to present guest blogs from candidates for office.  The views here are those of the candidate and not of David Lublin or Adam Pagnucco.]

For a decade or so, I’ve grown increasingly concerned for our community. Every morning, thousands of people crawl down I-270 for jobs in Virginia and D.C., jobs that were once in Montgomery County. Those jobs aren’t here anymore. They’ve migrated mostly to Northern Virginia.  A commute that should take only 30 minutes now can take upwards of two hours.

Indeed, every jurisdiction surrounding Montgomery County, with the exception of Prince Georges County, has added jobs over the last ten years. Montgomery County, according to the County’s own Planning Department’s analysis of 2016 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, has lost almost 3,000 jobs.

While 3,000 jobs lost may not seem like a lot over ten years, compare that figure to the average number of jobs gained by the five surrounding jurisdictions over the same ten years. That number is 34,274; an average gain of 34,000 jobs including Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Howard counties and the District of Colombia.

Since August 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported a rapid decline in employment and wages in Montgomery County. According to the data, Montgomery County lost more jobs from August 2013 to 2016 (an estimated 1,250 jobs) than it did during the Sub-Prime Mortgage Collapse leading to the Great Recession (an estimated 1,000).

Not only has Montgomery County lost jobs, clearly our current elected officials haven’t done much to attract new jobs either. Perhaps it has something to do with the anti-business ideology enacted by the County Council over the last decade?

The County showed just 1.1 percent job growth from 2015 to 2016 — the lowest of all area counties.

And how does the County Council respond? What do they do when thousands of jobs are lost across the County? They raise property taxes a dramatic nine percent last year, followed by another three percent increase this year.

As if that’s not enough, they increased the Recordation Tax; that’s a tax on buying and selling your home. And now they’re trying to do it again this year. Who does that?  The last thing you do when people are struggling is to take more money from them.

I will return homeownership to its rightful place as a family investment asset. I will work to reduce traffic congestion in order to return precious hours in the day to local families and I will fight to #BringJobsHome so that we can boost economic development and establish a work-where-you-live culture in our community.

Dr. Tom Ferleman is a Republican candidate for Montgomery County Council in District 2.

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How I Plan to Win District 2: Measurable Solutions to Real Problems

By Dr. Tom Ferleman.

[Editor’s note: Seventh State is pleased to present guest blogs from candidates for office.  The views here are those of the candidate and not of David Lublin or Adam Pagnucco.]

In order to #BringJobsHome to Montgomery County, we must actively recruit anchor companies and top-tier mid-size businesses that will help expand economic development in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) while also fostering family-owned small business entrepreneurship and innovation.

GROW LOCAL JOBS

My five point Jobs Plan to #BringJobsHome to Montgomery County is one of the most significant ways to increase opportunity and decrease poverty. Both public and private stakeholders in the County must come together to reach agreement and take action to make the economy grow and create local income opportunities for more people.

We must make it easier for businesses to operate in the County. Otherwise they will continue to choose other locations to operate.  Advancing our competitiveness in the region is essential to giving people opportunities to increase their wages and strengthen their chances for meaningful and stable employment. Furthermore, growing jobs locally provides a better quality of life, increased lifestyle choices, better neighborhood engagement, healthier nutrition, fitness, and family -time and an overall culture that promotes local families and communities.

The number one uncertainty in business is time. While businesses can plan for cost, taxes, and fees, they struggle to plan for the time it will take to start and complete a project. We must reduce the time it takes to process permits, gain approval, and achieve a fair return on investment. These changes will strengthen business assurance and draw new smart growth jobs to our community.

ROLL BACK TAX INCREASES

My five point Tax Plan for rolling back tax increases will provide incentives to businesses that expand in Montgomery County and additional credits to residential homeowners, the elderly, and veterans. Families are feeling the pain as budgets have shrunk and flexible spending has diminished. It’s as if people are renting their homes from the government.

In order to return homeownership to its long-term investment value, I will submit a bill to establish a supplemental property tax credit for homeowners whose household income as compared to their tax bill puts an undue burden on their quality of life.  My plan will double the maximum property assessment amount used for computing property taxes and change the income formula to allow for eligibility at a higher income level.

As part of my #BringJobsHome Plan, I will introduce a ten-year sliding tax credit available to businesses that increase their square footage and the number of full-time employees. As businesses grow, the credit will increase to incentivize local growth. An additional “hometown” credit will be added for businesses that have been in Montgomery County for over ten years.

REDUCE TRAFFIC CONGESTION

My five point Transportation Plan calls for the County to adopt a culture of smart planning, innovation, rapid implementation and efficient execution that focuses on capacity management. Flexible, community-sensitive design should replace by-the-book engineering that inhibits rapid improvements. I will solve problems with innovation focused on results rather than time-consuming studies. Rapidly implemented on-the-ground fixes will be adjusted in light of experience, and we should move on quickly if they don’t work. Our primary concern should be to alleviate traffic congestion as both an economic and quality of life benefit.

We must integrate technology companies, land developers, regional partners and citizens to lead Maryland in innovative traffic management. We must prepare for the introduction of autonomous vehicles, traffic flow timing, sensor-based traffic lights, and adjustable self-governing speed limits for both mass-transit and individual car drivers to ensure community safety concerns are addressed and implementation is efficient, cost-effective, and first and foremost, reduces traffic congestion.

An investment in infrastructure is an investment in jobs. Therefore, I support research into building a second crossing over the Potomac and following through with constructing Mid-County Highway Extended (M-83).  Transportation improvements must translate to new business imperatives. Smart growth requires an economic and rural balance that maximizes the social-cultural diversity of our community and benefits every citizen equally.

FUND A ROBUST EDUCATION PIPELINE

My five point Education Plan focuses on preparing students for jobs in our community. A sustainable education pipeline begins with a well-funded school system. We must support strong, family-first early childhood education that prepares young children for success throughout their academic years. It continues with the highest-quality elementary, middle and high school education, all focused on preparing students for success in college and beyond.

We must think locally and act globally; the nations of the world are here. Montgomery County is a transient community. Many people move here for government jobs and eventually return to their homes. This varied culture has always ensured that we are a diverse, adaptable, creative and welcoming community. We must develop an education pipeline that maximizes our geographic uniqueness, sees diversity as an opportunity for creativity and allows students to grow as citizens of the world.

If we want the best schools, we must be willing to pay for the best talent, resources, and time. Across nearly all measures, our community ranks in the top ten in terms of education but we are rarely number one. We must leap to the front of the room and capture the flag of success by recruiting the best and brightest teachers in the world. Teaching is a calling not just a paycheck; our community understands that and is willing to support our teachers as they dream big and achieve greatness.

CONCLUSION

My plan for Montgomery County is challenging; some might even call it a “bridge too far.” Others will even say that it is too hard. I would respond that our elected officials are hired to do hard things. We expect them to forecast a measurable and emboldened vision and then carry it out. But that’s not what we currently have in District 2. I want to represent my community in measurable ways. Our future requires bold leadership that is willing to look beyond the election cycles and find ways to work across political, geographic, policy and budgetary constraints. I am that leader with a measurable plan for the future of our community.

Dr. Tom Ferleman is a Republican candidate for Montgomery County Council in District 2.

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