I have the utmost respect for our elected officials. The ones who are genuine public servants who want to do good for the community. Not the "politicians". The ones whose speeches sound like lies and BS. I hear their guarantees that I know are just empty promises to help get this person elected. I'm not some lying politician. Below you'll see the list of issues I feel are important and are actually things I will work on if elected to the Montgomery County Council. I want the same things every citizen should want - good schools for our kids, safe neighborhoods for all.
LIST OF ISSUES
TRAFFIC AND ROAD CONSTRUCTION
My street was repaved recently. It took several months from beginning to end. Three stages of construction with weeks in between, all while driving on a grooved gravelly road. Construction projects need to be streamlined. They're able to finish these projects from start to finish in a few days with minimal problems. This can be done.
As far as traffic, I know several people who telecommute full time or part time. This reduces traffic on the roads. We need incentives and tax credits to get businesses and companies to have more telecommuting. More telecommuting workers = less traffic on the roads. Also, major construction projects should be done quicker. They are often over budget and take longer than planned. I drive through the Randolph road-Georgia avenue intersection every day. The fact that it's been years now since that project started, and it still looks nowhere near completion is ridiculous. I also support small tolls like 25 cent and 50 cent express lanes for 495 and 270. They won't make as much money as a $10 toll, but many more people would be likely to use them, and they won't feel like they are being gouged for it.
I'm a big supporter of our emergency services. Most people don't realize how wonderful and helpful these people are until you have to dial 911 and need them. They risk their lives in scary situations every day. When we need help, they are there. When a traffic signal is out, it's a police officer standing in the road, all day in 90 degree heat sometimes, to help traffic get through. We have over 40 fire/rescue stations and six police district stations in our county. I've visited most of these stations and talked to hundreds of firefighters, paramedics, and officers. Did you know that most of them don't even live in Montgomery County because it's too expensive? Also, most have 2nd or 3rd jobs to support themselves and their families. That's just not right. These wonderful people need to be better compensated and better equipped.
We have 22 libraries in our county. Many have recently or are currently undergoing Refresh Projects. I spent many hours growing up at the White Oak and Wheaton libraries. In addition to free use of books, libraries offer many other things: programs for kids, computer use, adult language programs, just to name a few. We rely solely on volunteers and donations to staff and fund so many library events. Also, did you know there are as many part time employees as full time employees at our county libraries? The path to full time employment is often a long and difficult one. Every day people donate their old books to the library. We need to do a better job of monetizing these donations. Some libraries have a couple of carts of books and a suggested donation of $0.50 or $1. The old Wheaton library used to have a full on book sale in the basement. These are great ways to make money for the library to keep their programs going, and maintain free book access to all kids and adults.
PLUMBERS, ELECTRICIANS, AND CARPENTERS
When I was in college I spent 3 years working as a carpenter in our Theater Department. I helped build sets and scenery, and learned many carpentry skills. While still dreaming of a career in radio, I graduated from college with my economics degree and wondered what I'd be doing for the next 50 years. I started looking for jobs, and my boss in the Theater Department said "you can always work as a carpenter", and he was right. He suggested I go work for the company he used to work at, and so I did. For the next 8 months I was a carpenter earning more money than I thought I would in my first job out of college. While I searched for an opportunity in radio, I had a steady good paying job while also learning many practical carpentry skills that I still use today. While "tech jobs" are the future, we can't forget about the fact that we'll always need skilled plumbers, electricians, and carpenters. Did you know the average age of a plumber is 58? We need to teach kids in high school that there are many opportunities out there in the world. You can go to a technical or vocational school, or work as a plumber's apprentice, and learn a trade that can give you a great career.
DOGS AND CATS
I love animals. I think dogs are the best thing in the world. I love my dogs very much. It breaks my heart to watch those ASPCA or Humane Society TV ads. I work with a local dog rescue group. I see how many dogs come from shelters. If I'm in office, we'll increase the budget for county shelters. No animal will be put to death again. Did you know that the county council gives out grants to charity/non-profit groups. Last year they gave $3.2 million to 138 different groups, but none of them were animal rescues! I would give more grants to animal rescue/adoption groups.
MORE STREET LIGHTS
I've knocked on thousands of doors, and asked as many people as I can "what can the county do for you"? So many people have told me that they need more street lights! It gets dark so early in the winter. It's not just a convenience, better street lighting prevents car, bike, and pedestrian accidents. It's a crime deterrent too. A friend of mine lives in the Glen Hills area of Rockville. It's all residential. For miles around his house there is no visibility at night. Coming home from work, I drive on a side road every night that is not well lit. I have to put on my high beams to make sure I can see other cars, or avoid a deer. We need better street lighting!
RESTORE THE BUSING PROGRAM
The county used to fund a busing program for parochial schools. They would cover much of the cost while the parents of the children using the buses would cover the rest. It not only helped with reducing traffic congestion and pollution, it also took the burden of driving the kids to school or carpooling off of the parents. Private schools are very expensive, and many families can barely afford the tuition. The busing program was a great aid to these families. It was a tiny part of the budget, but was a great help to many people. I talked to dozens of residents whose main problem with the county was the elimination of this busing program. I recently heard of an idea about retiring MCPS buses when they reached 12 years old. These buses could be used in this program, and for other private schools.
Like everyone else, I've had a parent or grandparent in a senior living facility, assisted living center, etc. Either you're wealthy and can afford these places, or you're below the income threshold and get medicaid. For all those people in between, they have to worry about the enormous costs of these places. Have they saved enough during their working years? Can they live on a fixed income for years in a nursing home? I've dealt with these issues, and so have most of you. We have many wonderful services and organizations to help seniors in our county. They will always have my support. I've always thought that programs to make seniors smile are the best. Everytime I've seen a puppy or kitten come in to meet them, it's been beautiful!
We are lucky to have trash and recycling picked up at our curbside every week, as well as leaf and snow collection. Did you know that other counties don't have those things? Or you have to pay extra? We do a very good job at this. Something else I'd like to see are more trash cans and more dumpsters in common areas. Many times we need to throw out something large, it'd be nice to have county dumpsters were citizens can bring their trash. Instead of calling the county and scheduling a bulk pick up, we should be able to have a dumpster we can easily take trash too. Also, we need more trash and recycling cans in parking lots, strip malls, office buildings.