Montgomery County’s quality of life is the envy of communities across our region. However, this quality life is increasingly out of reach for a growing number of residents as more families struggle to keep up with our skyrocketing cost of living.
We need new leaders who will work tirelessly to ensure our community grows in a manner that benefits all residents. That means leaders who will work to create jobs that pay a living wage; leaders who understand the necessity of better transportation options to connect our residents to those jobs; leaders who will promote investment in life-changing educational opportunities to help more residents climb the economic ladder; and leaders who will prioritize policies that create more affordable housing.
Pathway to Progress
You can read about our vision for Montgomery County in Team Shnider's Pathway to Progress action plan. We'll be updating this document periodically with new ideas -- so feel free to check back in as the campaign heats up to make sure you have the latest version.
You can download it right now here or by clicking the image to the right.
TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
Improving access to a range of transportation options is vital for a healthier, more equitable, and economically vibrant community. Too many residents lack affordable and reliable transportation. And this reality is getting worse by the day. The good news is that this problem has a solution. We must make the necessary infrastructure investments to give community members more options for getting to employment, recreational, and educational opportunities.
To that end, the County must do more to connect our communities along the I-270 corridor to transit. It’s time to move forward with projects like bus rapid transit (BRT) along Routes 355 and 586. It’s also time to enhance RideOn service from the Kentlands and Crown Farm and, ultimately, move ahead with Phase One of the Corridor Cities Transitway in a fashion that ensures dedicated lanes and genuine BRT service. Further, the County must vigorously advocate in Annapolis for all-day, weeklong MARC commuter rail service along the Brunswick Line, which includes Metropolitan Grove, Olde Towne Gaithersburg, Washington Grove, and Rockville. And, of course, we must see through the construction of the Purple Line and continue forward with our recent regional progress on governance reform and dedicated funding for Metro.
Finally, there is a pressing need for broader, safer pedestrian and bicycling opportunities. Greater investment in the construction of new bike and pedestrian infrastructure, along with maintenance of existing infrastructure, will allow more residents to access commercial centers without having to get behind the wheel. The functional bicycle master plan, currently in its early stages of development, provides a necessary policy framework for enhanced bicycling opportunities. Careful and expanded attention must also be paid to pedestrian and bicycle routes with every master plan that the Council reviews.
Making Montgomery College Accessible to All MCPS Graduates
The prohibitive cost of postsecondary education blocks too many graduates of Montgomery County Public Schools from realizing their full potential and achieving economic stability. We must work to ensure that every MCPS graduate can attend Montgomery College tuition-free and is matched with local employers along the way. Other communities, including Allegany and Garrett Counties here in Maryland, have realized this goal. It’s time we do the same.
Early childhood education is critical for maximizing a student’s success. Whenever a Montgomery County family must forgo this investment, our entire community suffers. For years we’ve talked about implementing universal pre-K in Montgomery County. Meanwhile, communities like New York City and Philadelphia have done just that. It’s well past time to realize the ambitious, yet essential, objective of providing every child in our community with access to quality pre-K education — regardless of their family’s income.
Expanding Wrap-Around Services in Our Schools
Our public schools are the pride of our community. Yet many students of color and from lower-income families lack the full range of wrap-around services. All schools, regardless of zip code, must offer the same high-quality opportunities. We should draw on the community school model to target additional resources, like therapy and healthcare, to under-resourced schools. Through such an approach, we can address the holistic needs of our students and free up our teachers to focus on the classroom.
Read more about my views on education here.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & HOUSING
Our County’s economic development strategy is fixated on courting large corporations at the expense of our indispensible small businesses. Existing efforts, including the recently enacted Business Solutions Group in the County Executive’s office (where the previously established Small Business Navigator is based), represent a step forward, but are not sufficient. The County must reexamine the effectiveness of current programs and identify new initiatives to retain, grow, and locate small businesses here. Our small business owners shouldn’t have to spend days searching for the government services available to them when they’re working 80-hour weeks to stay afloat.
We must also advance sustainable land use policies consistent with the demands of a 21st-century economy. For example, apartment rents in our community are exorbitant, and the ability to purchase a home is out of reach for a growing number of families. We must preserve the County’s existing affordable housing while expanding a more affordable and diverse housing stock as part of redevelopment. In doing so, we can both ensure that all of our residents have a reasonable place to live and a little more spending money at the end of the month.
Finally, a diverse, sustainable economy requires the most productive use of already developed land. Area and sector master plans, the County’s Subdivision Staging Policy, and the County’s transportation and school impact taxes are among the existing tools for advancing sustainable development that complements, not contradicts, essential public infrastructure. The County must exercise creativity with these existing tools and identify new ones to incentivize smart growth and transit-oriented development over sprawl by every means possible. Both objectives are achievable through collaboration among the County Council, other government entities, and the community they serve.
Read more about my views on economic development here.
A healthy environment is critical for public health and economic progress. Leading on this front requires moving with a sense of urgency from inadequate, outdated policies toward a more sustainable future. We must embrace, not fear, the challenges ahead. Doing so will entail closing the Dickerson Incinerator and working toward zero waste, aggressively promoting transit alternatives, and taking urgent action to safeguard our watersheds.
Montgomery County has burned its trash at the Resource Recovery Facility in Dickerson since August of 1995. No amount of “scrubbing” emissions from its “smokestack” changes the reality that trash incineration degrades our environment. We must close down the facility as soon as possible once the County’s contract with its private operator expires. We must also move toward a “zero waste” model by implementing a countywide food waste composting program, including residential curbside pickup service, and banning disposable carry-out bags.
A healthier environment also requires expanding mobility choices beyond just driving. We need more reliable and increased mobility options for our residents. This means implementing a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network that uses predominantly fixed guideways on Routes 355 and 586, as well as urging the state to restart work towards implementing Phase I of the Corridor Cities Transitway. In the meantime, we should increase express Ride On service to better connect residents to rail and employment centers. We must also press the state for bi-directional, all week MARC commuter rail service on the Brunswick Line. Expanding walking and biking opportunities is another vital component of an environmentally friendly transportation policy. We must offer more bicycle connectivity between our major commercial centers and residential areas to ensure biking is a realistic transportation mode for our community.
Finally, Montgomery County must not rest on its laurels in protecting our watersheds. Even as the Potomac Conservancy announces notable progress in the condition of the Potomac River, for example, they also warn of the threats to that progress going forward. We must do our part by keeping pesticides and other pollutants out of the Potomac River and its feeder streams. This includes an unwavering defense of the aesthetic pesticide ban enacted by the County Council a few years ago that is now embroiled in the courts. We must move towards a well-maintained and an expanded inventory of natural grass athletic fields and natural surface playgrounds.
Montgomery County is home to a diverse array of creative, thoughtful people who rightly insist on the highest environmental standards for our entire community. They have every right to expect that their County Councilmembers, in turn, will make the tough, bold choices to meet those standards.
Montgomery County’s diversity is its greatest strength. Embracing that diversity is also the foundation of a comprehensive and effective policing strategy, as it strengthens community relations with our public safety agencies. That is why the County must codify its existing policy of not dedicating precious local resources to proactively enforcing federal immigration law.
We must also work tirelessly to ensure due process for, and foster the trust of, all residents. This is achievable by welcoming residents from across the County to the table to join with our public safety agencies in actively exploring the policing strategies our community pursues. We must not assume that we are immune from the tragedies that have occurred in other communities.
Read more about my views on the public safety here.
Despite Montgomery County’s relative affluence, there are still too many residents living on the margins. The ratio of earnings between the County’s top 1% and the other 99% is 20:1. This gap between the uber-rich and the most vulnerable is wider than in 2,664 of 3,064 American counties. Enhancing the ability of County residents to meet their basic needs is in the interest of Montgomery County as a whole. Raising our local minimum wage to $15 per hour is a critical step towards this goal.
Read more about my views on the minimum wage here.