Speech to the Mayor and Council

In 2014, our former Mayor, Sidney Katz, won election to the Montgomery County Council. Jud Ashman was selected by his colleagues on the City Council to serve as Mayor, opening a seat on the Council. I was selected to fill this seat for the next year, and as part of the selection process, I had to make a 3-minute speech to the Mayor and Council.  The text is here:

Mister Mayor, members of the city council, city staff, and fellow citizens of Gaithersburg, thank you for this opportunity.

I once asked an old friend, a political consultant, what makes a good politician. He told me, it helps to be tall. To be a confident public speaker… and to have great hair…

Starting with at least one strike against me, I’ll explain why I’m here.

I’ve lived in Gaithersburg since 1988. My family and I moved here from Silicon Valley. My children attended our schools starting in kindergarten, and my two oldest graduated from QO. My wife has her child psychology practice here. I’m here to give back to the city that has given us such a good life.

I learned computer programming in high school, and I dropped out of an Ivy League school to become a professional programmer. Just like Bill Gates.

Bill and I worked hard to build our software companies. Our paths took slightly different trajectories, but I have no complaints.

And unlike Bill Gates, I went back to school, earning my degrees while working. Among the lessons learned was, it’s a lot easier to succeed if you work really hard and do your homework.

I’ve served in the Kentlands HOA. I led projects that built a better budgeting process. I’ve made sure we’ve opened ourselves for input from our residents and businesses in surveys as well as in meetings and publications. I’ve helped to improve many aspects of the Kentlands community.

I am also a member of the city’s Economic Development Committee. You like to send interesting issues our way. What do we think a proposed apartment complex, or an office park, or a shopping center?

Tonight, I have some questions. What do we want Gaithersburg to be in 20 years – and, what is it OK not to be? What are our advantages? Who are the partners and allies that we can move us forward? A clear vision and strategy for the future, provides the context to guide the day-to-day decisions that need to be made, and I would like to work with you to develop that vision.

The book festival has made Gaithersburg known as a center for literacy. Do we partner with NIST to put a similar focus on science and technology? Can we leverage nearby campuses to build good jobs for our children? Can we as a city address the traffic and transit issues facing our region? How do we bridge our town centers?

I’ve lived here longer than I lived anywhere else, and I love this city. I’m here tonight to offer my skills in business, in community organizations, and working with people.

If you select me to join you in this enterprise, I will continue to work hard, and do my homework to build a greater Gaithersburg.

Thank you!