Montgomery County Council District 5



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DEMOCRAT

 

Kevin Harris

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: March 29, 1964

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Principal, Kevin Harris Consulting, which provides business planning, capacity building and organizing services to nonprofits. Previously: vice president of Social Solutions; senior housing planner, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): Never run for public office.

• Campaign information:

 

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I’m running for District 5 Council because I love my community and am concerned about our future. Montgomery County is facing great fiscal challenges that need to be addressed, or else the quality of life that we have come to enjoy will diminish. I want to build trust between residents and elected officials, and create a government culture that is open, transparent, and responsive.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

The greatest challenge facing our County is a sluggish local economy which decreases government revenue, increases debt, and prevents the County from providing the high-quality services that residents deserve. I want to help build a strong local economy where workers and local businesses thrive. My plan for addressing our economic challenges is to provide support to small businesses to expand, and help form business incubators which can spawn new businesses that can provide high-paying jobs to County residents.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

Recently, the County budget has not been managed well by the Council. Even though our population has been growing and the County raised property, recordation and other taxes, we continue to face budget deficits annually.  Our debt service payments alone in FY19 are $429 million, which is the third highest expense after education and public safety. The County is absorbing millions of dollars for infrastructure costs for new development because the Council exempts so many developments from paying development impact taxes, including all of the residential units in Downtown Silver Spring. Developers need to pay their fair share.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I believe that my 30 years of experience as a community planner, small business owner, and nonprofit advocate have prepared me to address the complex challenges facing the next County Council. I understand land use and planning and economic development, and have a deep commitment to ensuring that all Montgomery residents have the opportunity to rise together in an environment free of discrimination. I also believe my experience building socially responsible businesses will be of great use to the County government as we look to implement a more effective economic development strategy.

 

Tom Hucker (incumbent)

• Where you live: Silver Spring

• Date of birth: April 9, 1967

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Montgomery County Council member. Previously: founder, Progressive Maryland.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): State delegate, District 20. Elected 2006; re-elected 2010. Montgomery County Council, District 5, 2014-present.

• Campaign information:

 

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

Over the last four years, we’ve shrunk class size, strengthened our transportation and improved our environment. And though the County’s east side had been too often neglected, I’ve worked closely with the County Executive, my colleagues, and outside advocates to win significant investments including many school additions to relieve overcrowding, Purple Line and bus rapid transit stations, and renovated parks and nature centers. I’ll use my experience to continue that progress over the next term.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

One of the most important is the opportunity gap in our schools. That gap creates two Montgomery Counties: one that is broadly succeeding & another whose children receive free/reduced meals and meager afterschool options while their parents endure longer commutes to work two jobs at low wages to deal with rising housing costs. The best predictor of a child’s success in school is family income. I pushed to raise the minimum wage, but workers need help accessing higher-wage jobs through apprenticeships, certification and licensing assistance. I’ve introduced Green Jobs Apprenticeship legislation supported by WorkSource Montgomery, construction firms, utilities, and unions.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

The County has not done enough to address the rising cost of higher education and student debt. Higher education is more important than ever, yet it costs three times what it cost twenty years ago. Too many young people graduate with massive amounts of debt and pay interest rates that are far too high. This hinders their ability to buy a home, start a business, or save for retirement.

So I’m working to create a Student Loan Refinancing Program to allow our residents refinance their loans at lower interest rates, saving them thousands of dollars without burdening the county budget.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

Over my entire career, I’ve brought people together to make government more responsive and effective – first as a community organizer and environmental advocate, then as founding Executive Director of Progressive Maryland and other nonprofit roles. I was twice elected to serve as a state legislator and then a Montgomery County Councilmember. I’ve passed important laws to pay living wages, to protect workers from discrimination, to improve our environment and address climate change, to strengthen our neighborhoods, to improve children’s health, and to fight human trafficking. And every week, I listen to residents and focus relentlessly on excellent constituent service.

 

Kenge Malikidogo-Fludd

• Where you live: currently Germantown; house hunting in Silver Spring

• Date of birth: April 28, 1983

• Current occupation and employer (may also list up to two other jobs you’ve held); if retired, list your last job and employer: Independent consultant for Mary Kay. Director of African Women Council, an organization that helps African immigrants adjust to life in the United States.

• Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for office and which years): First run for office.

• Campaign information:

 

1 – Why are you running for this office? (75 words max)

I am running for Council District 5 to prioritize current residents needs in the decision-making process on the Council. I am running to improve our education system, preserve our diversity, and grow our economy. I am running to keep County residents from moving out or being pushed out due to the increased cost of living from rapid overdevelopment. I am running to provide representation for the women, minority, immigrant, and faith communities of District 5.

2 – What is the most important issue in this race and what specific plans do you have to address it? (100 words max)

The disparity of the schools in East County. I will address this need by helping facilitate public and private partnerships to provide enrichment opportunities for the students in our schools. I will seek out and connect all willing nonprofits, and businesses to help enhance the learning environment for our K-12 students.

While I admire the county’s AP courses, gifted centers, magnet and International Baccalaureate programs, as a mother, I want my children and all students to have access to stimulating and enjoyable learning experience even if they are not in a specialized program.

3 – What is one major issue the current County Council has handled poorly and what would you have done differently? (100 words max)

Representation has been an issue for District 5. The educational, transportation, and safety concerns of District 5 have been ignored. I will help our schools by encouraging and finding private funding for more afterschool enrichment programs. I will increase the number of Ride-On bus routes where WMATA has cut services. I will go into the community and attend civic association meetings to hear concerns directly from citizens. I will engage the community and ensure they are aware of changes that will affect their quality of life, seeking their input to mitigate adverse effects. I will serve the community.

4 – What experience (work, political or other) has prepared you to hold this office? (100 words max)

I co-founded a nonprofit that provides information and resources to African immigrants in the United States. This connects me with government agencies, nonprofits and community leaders.

I also served on boards including Montgomery Community Media, where I helped with its transition from local cable access channel restricted by County Charter law into a more autonomous organization. I was a member of the Montgomery Knolls & Pinecrest PTA and currently serve on the Executive Board of United People for African Congress.

I also bring my experience as a commuter, mother, first-generation immigrant, African-American and citizen of the United States.

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