Budget Part 5: Investing in Public Safety

Dear Resident:

Keeping our community safe is my priority. That is why I was proud to support a set of smart investments in public safety in this year’s budget. This email describes the progress we are pushing towards.

I am also heartened to have played a role moving forward on important measures that will strengthen a culture of accountability and excellence in our public safety mission — because everyone deserves to feel safe, not just some of us.

In that spirit, I am happy to report considerable progress in this year’s budget.

Police
The Police Department’s budget is going up this year, continuing our long-term trend of investing in public safety. My colleagues and I appropriated more than $296 million to the Police Department, a 4.5% increase year-over-year.

This record investment allows us to:

  • Create 24 new positions in the Police Department across various disciplines including, sworn officers, emergency communications, IT, Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) requests, crossing guards, and body worn camera reviews.
  • Increase salaries for police officers to improve our competitiveness with neighboring jurisdictions, helping our recruitment and retention efforts.
  • Add 300 body worn cameras, replace mobile video cameras and provide less lethal protective instruments such as pepper ball guns.

To promote school safety, the Council added funding to stand up wellness centers in every County high school, where we’ll provide violence prevention teams and mental and physical health services.

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VIDEO: Virtual Town Hall on Abortion Access in Montgomery County

It was a shameful day last month when the Supreme Court stripped fundamental rights away from millions of Americans. As your local representative, I know it is my job to do everything I can to protect your rights, and I will do everything that I can.

That is why I hosted a brief but very informative town hall on abortion access in Montgomery County and Maryland last week. See the video of the town hall below.

Remarks are followed by a Q&A session with:
– Councilmember Hans Riemer
– Delegate Ariana Kelly
– Allie Harper, Executive Administrator at the Potomac Family Planning Center
– Dr. Andrea Desai, Assistant Professor and practicing Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine
– Diana Simpson, volunteer with the DC Abortion Fund

Budget Part 4: Creating jobs for all through minority-owned business

Dear Resident:

Small businesses are a bedrock of our economy and our communities. Small business owners bring a passion and vitality to their work that enriches all of our lives.

For too long, I have heard that Montgomery County does not provide enough support for Black-, Hispanic-, Asian-, and other minority-owned businesses. I wanted to do something about that, because most jobs are on the payroll of a small business. If we can help all small businesses grow, we’ll create more success for the County.

But COVID has taken a deep toll on our small businesses, forcing many to shut doors and defer lifelong dreams. And minority-owned businesses have been hit the heaviest here, deepening existing inequities in small businesses ownership and entrepreneurship.

We need to help our entrepreneurs and businesses recover, start new businesses or just grow and expand to their full potential. One strategy our County can get behind is boosting minority-owned businesses, which have tremendous potential to grow and create jobs.

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Budget Part 3: Transportation and Climate

Dear Resident:

The latest report from the U.N. panel on climate change delivered a stark warning, but also a pragmatic path forward. We need to act, now, at all levels of government and society to reduce and eventually eliminate our emissions.

The task ahead of us is enormous, but it is achievable. We know what we need to do, and we have all the tools we need. One of those tools is to generate much more clean energy. We need to electrify our buildings and make them more efficient. We need to transition the transportation sector to electric and invest heavily in transit, biking, and walking.

Fortunately, doing these things needn’t mean living with less and paying more for it. Done smartly and deliberately, greening our homes and vehicles presents enormous upside for jobs and economic growth as we invest in new technologies and upgrading buildings, appliances, and machinery. As President Biden has said, “When I think about climate change, I think about jobs. Within our climate response lies an extraordinary engine of job creation ready to be fired up.”

It is in that spirit that I approached this year’s budget. I am happy to report that we took major steps forward this year as a result of initiatives that I championed.

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Budget Part 2: Taking action on affordable housing

Dear Resident:

Montgomery County needs more affordable housing! It is becoming extraordinarily difficult for young workers and families to get a foothold here, or for retirees to stay here.

I Wanted to Stay Here,” was the title of a recent article about affordable housing that was tough to read. To help tackle this crisis, we need more action on affordable housing. Our regional housing plan calls for us to double our annual housing production to alleviate a serious housing shortage.

That is why I am so pleased that the County’s budget for next year makes some enormous strides on housing. In the second part of this series on next year’s budget–the first was on education and workforce–we take a closer look at record funding for affordable housing.

Addressing the high cost of housing and getting our economy rolling again have been my top priorities since taking over as Chair of the Council’s Planning, Housing, and Economic Development (PHED) Committee. I am greatful that my colleagues on the Committee–Councilmembers Will Jawando and Andrew Friedson–have been excellent partners as we have tackled these tough issues.

Good news: the Council approved a proposal I made with support from my colleagues to add $50 million to an affordable housing construction loan fund for the Housing Opportunities Commission, taking to $100 million a revolving loan fund for their innovative housing model.

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