MoCo Show Interview

The MoCo Show was kind enough to invite me to join them, and the podcast can be heard here:

 

 

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Victory! And, Thanks!

My election owes much to many fine people.

To the voters of Gaithersburg, I appreciate your confidence and will work to maintain it. Not only in Kentlands and Lakelands, where the support was kind of overwhelming, but throughout our city.

To our elected officials:

Cathy Carlson Drzyzgula, my campaign chair, you will be missed on the Council. Your advice and encouragement and your unflagging support for the entire city leaves a void — so, don’t expect me to stop calling!

Jud Ashman, our great “new” mayor, your support, leadership, and energy are so important. Congrats on the well earned win, and thanks for everything so far and to come.

Michael Sesma, thanks for your endorsement, great work, and friendship.

Ryan Spiegel, all kidding aside, I appreciate sitting next to you, the snarky notes, and the political and governance insights. Congrats on another big win!

Robert Wu, you ran a great campaign and I’m very happy to serve with you. We got to know each other over the past year and you are a great asset to the city. Stealthy or no, I appreciate the mutual support during the heat of the campaign.

Henry Marraffa Jr, you ran a solid campaign and continue to contribute to our city, and I enjoy serving with you.

Sidney Katz, what can I say? I would not be doing this without your support. The example you set for steadiness and dedication are without peer. You are a superstar.

Cheryl C. Kagan, so many thanks for the endorsement but also for the ongoing stream of great advice and all your support for me and for our city.

Andrew Platt thanks for the endorsement, the planning, the input from your experience, and your ongoing energy on behalf of our city and our economic development.

And District 39 Delegate Charles Barkley (not on FB?), thanks for your support. You are a good man.

Campaign team:

My treasurer and dear friend, Ayesha Arora-Sharma, thanks for everything, as always. And Shelley Sharma, a great friend, for your help & support.

Neighbors, friends, and contributors: Jerry Stringham, Michael Bonnell, Steve Wilcox, Bikram Bakshi, Ann Marie Clements, Jennifer Carter, Joy Martin Nurmi, Leigh Henry, John P. Lin, Elaine Saba Koch, Bill Albright, Barney Gorin, James Mifsud, for the business people who provide the economic backbone for our city, for my many classmates from Wharton Executive MBA East class of 2005, and so many more, this means more than I’m capable of expressing. Bernard Unti for good company on the campaign trail, and Eileen E Noseworthy, Vicki Stander Understein, Julie M McGaughran for booth duty at Oktoberfest, Peg Nottingham for the website, and more!

Special thanks to Luc Brami and Shaun Auxier, Luc for the signs and banner, advice, & support, and Shaun for the awesome design work and everything you do.

And finally, but clearly not last, I could not do this without my family: Michelle Harris, Liz Harris, Jess Harris, Lona Feldman, Susan Feldman, Rich Lewis, Stephen Lewis, M’Liz Scotton Riechers, Mike Riechers, Robert K. Chester, Eric Mates, Juliet Guennoun, Sophia Guennoun, Sam Harris, Shirley Sieger, Mary Ann Elliott, and the innumerable Canadian cousins and extended family all over the world. Your love and support means everything.

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Chemical Herbicides

The county council is considering legislation to ban the use of synthetic herbicides and pesticides in the county. We faced that discussion in the Kentlands HOA in 2013, and I’d like to share what we did.

We had a full house at a board meeting, with about 100 people evenly divided between those who wanted the chemical ban and those who felt that the chemicals were safe and were important to the neighborhood’s beauty. So we did what any good board does and we appointed a committee. We chose a balanced list of residents, some from either camp and some who were still undecided on the issue. The committee brought in experts from the University of Maryland and other organizations, and after a good six months of weekly meetings and field trips, made its recommendations.
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Strategy for Growth

Transportation makes growth possible. Land use planning makes growth possible. But too often these are viewed as separate processes, when in reality they have huge effects on each other.

Opportunities abound in Gaithersburg. The Corridor Cities Transitway (CCT) will connect our western side to the Metro system and to points north. It runs right through the middle of our most vibrant economic corridor, home to NIST, Johns Hopkins’ planned Science City development, MedImmune, and much more. And the route 355 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan runs past Olde Town and LakeForest and through what was once our major shopping and job centers as well as the new Watkins Mill Interchange developments.
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School Construction

We need more schools. This is not just an issue in Gaithersburg – it is a county-wide and even a state-wide issue. There is not nearly enough money to build the new classrooms we need. So what do we do?

A recent county conference focused on infrastructure needs, mainly on schools but also on transportation needs, and a number of creative approaches were presented that impressed me and much of the audience. There is a lot of empty office space – can we use office buildings for classroom space? Alexandria Virginia has used this kind of creative thinking to reduce costs for adding classrooms and it’s working – we need to get there in Montgomery County, too.
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Government In Transitions

Governments seem to keep focusing on where we are now and where we want to be, without paying attention to what comes in between. The in-between can be very painful unless there is good planning. Highway planners learned this lesson long ago – they carefully plan detours and timing to minimize disruptions.

Some places where we get this wrong:

  • School systems adopt a new standard (like Core States), which needs to be implemented overnight. What about teacher training? What about adapting the curriculum for special needs kids?
  • Trade agreements are signed, which have very beneficial effects in the long run but cause great challenges in transition. NAFTA resulted in job losses in the USA, which will be regained, but they will not be the same jobs. There should have been accommodation for displaced workers – not just unemployment insurance, but training and relocation programs to match capabilities with job needs.

There are great ideas and great opportunities, but there is a path from Point A to Point B that needs careful planning.

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Stormwater Treatment, or the “Rain Tax”

The EPA requires everyone whose water drains into the Chesapeake Bay to treat their storm water to remove pollution. Gaithersburg will be required to treat 20% of our storm water within seven years. Our staff estimates that this is going to cost nearly $30 million, and this is not a project we’ve been saving for already.

Although the regulation focuses on improvements to water quality in the Bay, the money we spend will actually result in big improvements locally. The cities streams get runoff way too fast and have regular problems with bank undercutting. This makes the channel wider, which exposes it to sunshine in the summer. That combined with heat from the pavements raises water temperature excessively.  The erosion also leads to a muddy bottom,  which doesn’t provide the stability and habitat of a pebbly bottom. The benefits will be seen in our own back yard as well as in the Bay.

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