PRIORITIES

Issues

Housing

The housing crisis has existed for years and was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We greater renter protections, including ensuring that temporary rent increase protections do not expire before we have permanent rent stabilization legislation in place. We must also provide assistance for small landlords who need it.

 

Montgomery County's extreme housing shortage is impacting all but the highest earners. Young professionals heading into their prime earning years are being forced to settle far from their jobs or move out of the area entirely, leading to long commutes, negative environmental impacts, and loss of tax revenue for the county. We need transit-oriented affordable housing county-wide, investment in social housing, more attainable housing across nearly every income level, and development toward walkable and transit-connected communities across the county.

Transportation

Taking climate change and racial and economic equity seriously means moving toward a Montgomery County in which all residents can access work, school, shops, restaurants, and green spaces quickly and easily, just by walking or taking public transit. When people can safely walk to transit to get where they need to go, we increase job opportunities, reduce interactions with the police, reduce traffic accidents, build a greater sense of community, and safeguard the environment and our children’s futures.

Reimagining Public Safety

When armed police officers are the go-to option for responding to a five-year-old child who wandered off-campus (as recently and tragically occurred at East Silver Spring Elementary School, which I attended as a child), it is clear that we do not have the best possible systems in place to keep our community members safe. We can and must do better. Police officers do not belong in schools, and they should not be responsible for responding to non-violent incidents that can be better handled by trauma-informed mental health experts, medics, and other community support teams.

 

As evidenced by other cities and counties across the country, community-driven solutions that prioritize long-term health and peacekeeping over criminalization and incarceration end up saving taxpayers incredible amounts of money while fostering longer-term safety for all. 

 

Affordable housing, education, healthcare, mental health treatment, childcare, transportation, job training, parks, and community centers are also all part of public safety. We must invest more in preventing crime in addition to improving how we respond to it.

Environment

When I confronted Trump's Director of the Environmental Protection Agency in a restaurant in 2018, I told him, "I urge you to resign for what you're doing to the environment" and noted that "we deserve to have someone at the EPA who takes climate change seriously." I told him that the child on my hip, like all children, deserved better. Three days later, Scott Pruitt resigned. But now, the effects of his devastating rollbacks on top of years of half-measures have brought us to a crisis point.

In order to meet or exceed the goals set in Montgomery County's Climate Action Plan, we need to move quickly, think creatively, and act boldly. I support Community Choice Energy, deep investment in renewable energy including expanding community solar projects, implementing sustainable and carbon-neutral building design beginning with the County's own buildings, fast-tracking the construction of quality public transit, and developing walkable and transit-oriented communities.

Workers' Rights

I'm a proud union member (Washington-Baltimore News Guild Local 32025) and the Senior Legislative Organizer at a nonprofit that fights for justice alongside labor unions and grassroots advocacy groups. I've also worked as a restaurant server, a barista, and an MCPS teacher.

 

Ensuring working people are paid a living wage, provided paid leave and health benefits, guaranteed good working conditions, and treated with dignity and respect is beneficial to the economy, health outcomes, and our community as a whole. But more importantly, it is a moral imperative. Strong unions are a critical part of ensuring workers have the power to demand what they need and deserve.

Economic equity is foundational to addressing so many of the issues we face today. In addition to strengthening and growing labor unions, we must eliminate the tipped and youth sub-minimum wage, raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation, and pass the Time To Care Act to provide paid leave for workers. The Council must also move to ensure that taxpayer-funded infrastructure and construction projects are done with PLAs (Project Labor Agreements), which aid in those projects being completed on time and in budget, while ensuring compliance with health, safety, and wage standards.

Immigrant Rights

As the daughter of an immigrant, I grew up knowing that Montgomery County’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths. Our county should be a place of safety for all residents, regardless of status, and no matter who is sitting in the White House or the Governor’s mansion.

 

Our community is stronger when all of us have access to safe housing, good jobs, healthcare, healthy food, and a quality education. We must pass legislation that gets us ever closer to that goal, while supporting the many community-based organizations working to do the same.

Being an immigrant should also not prevent residents from participating in our local elections. There are currently 11 Maryland municipalities that allow all residents, including non-citizens, to participate in their local elections, including six in Montgomery County: Barnesville, Chevy Chase Section 3, Garrett Park, Glen Echo, Martin's Additions, and Takoma Park. We should allow all Montgomery County residents to vote in County-level elections as well.

Small Businesses

Small businesses provide jobs, boost our economy, and are an essential part of each city’s unique character and appeal. The pandemic has been devastating for small businesses. The ones that have survived, in many cases, are still struggling to recover. We must work closely with local business owners and provide the relief necessary to get them back to a place of stability and growth.

We must also streamline the process of opening a small business, eliminating redundancies in the process. The county should be providing easily accessible support and communication to prospective and existing business owners.

 

As we expand available housing and public transit, we must also work to protect existing small businesses from the impacts of construction and from potential rent hikes, while increasing walkability and transit connectedness.

Healthcare

No one should have to go without the healthcare they need, including mental health care, reproductive healthcare, and safe abortion.  In the wake of a year of disruption, distress, and isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health issues have spiked, including in children and teens. Additionally, in recent years we have seen an attack on reproductive rights and seated a Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.

We must continue to fight for universal healthcare and expanded coverage healthcare at the state and, ideally, federal level. At the county level, we must prioritize making healthcare, including mental health care, reproductive healthcare, and safe abortion, reliably accessible to all who need it.

 

We must improve the services we provide to low-income, undocumented, and uninsured or under-insured residents through Montgomery Cares and our School-Based Health and Wellness Centers. We must improve and expand access to specialists and to emergency care, and work with community members and advocates to determine how we can better reach residents who may not know about or be taking advantage of the systems we've put in place.

LGBTQ+ Rights

There are well-orchestrated efforts taking place across the country to roll back LGBTQ+ rights. Many of these efforts specifically target transgender children. Montgomery County must lead the way in protecting our LGBTQ+ community members, from schools to workplaces to community spaces, and work to affirmatively cultivate understanding, safety, and a culture of celebration of our differences.

MCPS must update our schools' curricula to be LGBTQ+ inclusive. I am currently working with other parent advocates and the MCPS curriculum department on this undertaking.

 

At the state and county level, we can pass legislation to make our public, single-stall restrooms all-gender, include menstrual hygiene products in all bathrooms in schools and other county buildings, add LGBTQ+ to our MFD (Minority-, Female-, Disabled-owned businesses) Program, and ban intersex surgeries on infants.

Education

As a former teacher, a graduate of Montgomery County Public Schools and the University of Maryland, someone who has also benefitted from excellent courses at Montgomery College, and the parent of an MCPS kindergartener, I place a very high importance on education, teachers, and school support staff. In order to best serve our children, our schools and the contracts of our teachers and school staff must be fully funded. Those who care for our kids must have partners in our electeds, and their unions must have a meaningful seat at the table. Student voices, too, must be heard and respected.

We are also at a critical moment for increasing our investment in schools. School employees are overworked, understaffed, and leaving at record rates. Our permanent outdoor infrastructure is lacking, and has benefits that would last beyond the pandemic. Students are crying out with both words and actions for increased mental health and social support.

 

MCPS can either fall behind or become a leader. As federal pandemic funding and state Kirwan funding comes in, the County must continue to invest, not cut funding commensurate without outside funds. 

 

I also believe that there can and must be a closer and more collaborative working relationship between the County Council and the Board of Education.

Early Childhood

I am one of the nearly 50% of working parents in Maryland who has had short-term disruption in employment due to difficulty securing affordable childcare. During the pandemic, I experienced firsthand the stress of working full-time while trying to care for my children without outside help.

The pandemic highlighted many of the ways in which we have long fallen short of supporting young children and their parents. The benefits of investing in quality early care and education are clear. By making infant care, toddler care, and pre-K accessible to all, we strengthen our economy by helping parents return to the workforce, and improve health and education outcomes for our children.

Seniors

As the daughter of two Montgomery County (District 5) seniors, it is deeply important to me that all our seniors are able to maximize their independence and quality of life during what should be a long and joyful period. This includes protecting the ability to age in place, ensuring access to convenient and affordable care, supporting community-based organizations that support seniors, addressing the skyrocketing premiums of long-term care insurance, and keeping the safety and enrichment of seniors in mind in both policy-making and development decisions.

Disability Rights

People with disabilities should be fully included in the workplace, neighborhoods, and all aspects of community life. We must work closely with impacted people and families and with local advocacy groups to ensure policy and infrastructure are developed in line with that goal, not as an afterthought but as a fundamental part of building a Montgomery County that is inclusive and accessible for all.

Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked choice voting (RCV) is an election method that ensures winning candidates have support from a majority of voters. Voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots, and if a candidate wins a majority (over 50%) of first-preference votes, they are declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate receiving the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated, and any ballot that ranked that candidate first is re-tabulated as a vote for the candidate marked as second-preference. 

RCV is used in several states and localities across the country, including in Takoma Park's mayoral and City Council elections. A state-level bill that would allow the Montgomery County Council to implement RCV was supported by all of Montgomery County's state delegates, but died in committee. The Council and public must continue to push the General Assembly to open up this possibility for Montgomery County.