The housing crisis continues to impact all but the highest earners, amongst both renters and prospective homeowners. Temporary rent stabilization legislation was allowed to expire, evictions continued throughout moratoriums, and many Montgomery County renters are living in unacceptable conditions. 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:
greater renter protections, including county-wide rent stabilization and Just Cause Eviction Protections, and assistance for small landlords who need it. (See Kristin's testimony to the sitting County Council about rent stabilization here.)
significantly more transit-oriented affordable housing county-wide, investment in social housing, more attainable housing across nearly every income level
development toward walkable and transit-connected communities across the county
TRANSPORTATION AND VISION ZERO
All residents deserve the ability to get to work, school, shops, restaurants, and green spaces quickly and easily, just by walking or taking transit. Montgomery County must become a place where walkers, bikers, transit-riders, and drivers can safely coexist. We can do much more to fulfill our vision of zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries. We need:
free, rapid, and reliable bus service seven days a week, and sheltered bus stops
completion of the Purple Line and expedited completion of BRT routes
protected bike lanes and safe pedestrian routes to bus stops
faster turnaround times for requests for basic road safety and traffic calming measures like sidewalks, crossing signals, and speed bumps
See Kristin's conversation with Vision Zero advocates about necessary state-level bills following the preventable death of a pedestrian here.
East County has the potential to be the site of the next jobs boom in Montgomery County. We need a champion on the Council who sees the value in tapping that potential, and the inequity in continued delay. We must:
push forward development plans like Viva White Oak and the long-promised renovation of Burtonsville Crossing to bring jobs, housing, new retail and restaurants to these historically under-served areas
build out educational pipelines, from internships to training programs to scholarship opportunities, to ensure local students are able to take advantage of the new career paths in their backyards
streamline the process of opening a business in Montgomery County, eliminating redundancies and providing easily accessible support and communication to prospective and existing business owners
proactively protect small businesses from the impacts of construction as we expand available housing and public transit
As a former teacher, a graduate of Montgomery County Public Schools and the University of Maryland, and now the parent of an MCPS kindergartener, I know our teachers and school staff are on the front lines for our students.
But at a time when students' academic and mental health needs are greater than ever, we're losing teachers at record rates. We're in an understaffing crisis that will worsen if we don't act quickly.
As a County Councilmember, I will work to:
increase mental health and social supports for students: counselors, mentorship programs, and afterschool programs
expand our School Based Health and Wellness Center into more schools
make the free meals launched during the pandemic available permanently
establish a seat on the Board of Education for a teacher. (If we can have a Student Member of the Board, we can have a Teacher Member of the Board.)
enact a home buyer program for teachers and school staff that will attract and retain talent
ensure contracts negotiated by teachers and school staff are honored
champion financial literacy courses in every high school
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 the child on my hip, like all children, deserved better. Three days later, Scott Pruitt resigned. But 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. This includes:
Community Choice Energy and deep investment in renewable energy including expanding community solar projects
establishing a dedicated team of county staff to assist building owners in meeting Building Energy Performance Standards
fast-tracking the construction of quality public transit, and developing walkable and transit-oriented communities.
Scott Pruitt video here.
Montgomery County benefits from relatively strong gun control legislation, and I am proud to have been among those pushing Maryland's General Assembly to ban ghost guns, which they did in 2022 after years of advocacy.
However, some known, effective measures to keep our kids and community safer have yet to be taken. We must:
pass secure gun storage resolutions
send annual letters home to parents via schools detailing Maryland's mandatory safe gun storage practices
provide facilities where gun owners can temporarily store their firearms if they or a family member are in crisis
prohibit domestic abusers under temporary restraining orders from having firearms
put pressure on nearby states to pass stricter gun safety measures
With the absolutely horrifying roll-back of Roe v. Wade protections, Montgomery County will increasingly be a place where people seek abortion care. There is ample local and state policy we can implement to set the standard for caring for these patients, and protecting them from prosecution when they return home. We must:
push Governor Hogan to release funding allocated by the state legislature for the training of new abortion care providers
set up a travel fund to assist patients from other counties and states
run a public health campaign on the safety and availability of Plan C, medication abortion, which can be accessed via the mail following a telehealth appointment
remove the parent notification requirement for teens seeking abortion
invest in tech solutions to prevent cell phone tracking data from being used to prosecute those who travel from states that ban abortions
leverage state and federal funding
See my speech on the Supreme Court steps here.
Police officers should be utilized in a much more thoughtful way, focusing primarily on violent crime and solving cases. When armed police officers are the go-to option for responding to a five-year-old child who wandered off-campus (as recently 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 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.
We must also invest more in preventing crime, in addition to improving how we respond to it. Affordable housing, education, healthcare, mental health treatment, gun control, childcare, transportation, job training, parks, and community centers are also all part of public safety.
As the daughter of an immigrant, I grew up knowing that Montgomery County’s diversity is one of our 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. We must:
ensure all residents facing deportation are provided legal representation, with no carve-outs or exceptions
improve access to emergency care, specialists, and mental health services for undocumented, under-insured, and uninsured residents
follow the lead of 11 Maryland municipalities (including six in Montgomery County) and pass legislation allowing all residents to vote in County elections regardless of citizenship status
actively support the fight for greater immigrant protections in neighboring counties and states, for our community members who cross boundary lines
No one should have to go without the healthcare they need, including mental health care, safe abortion, and affordable prescription drugs.
We must continue to fight for universal healthcare at the federal and state levels. At the county level, we must prioritize making healthcare reliably accessible and affordable to all who need it. As a County Councilmember, I will work to:
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
improve and expand access to specialists and emergency care
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
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. We must:
add LGBTQ+ to our MFD (Minority-, Female-, Disabled-owned businesses) Program
update our schools' curricula to be LGBTQ+ inclusive. (Read my statement about this effort here.)
make our public, single-stall restrooms all-gender
include menstrual hygiene products in all bathrooms in schools and other county buildings
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. I've lobbied Congressmembers while nursing an infant, and brought babies and toddlers with me to testify in Annapolis. During the pandemic, I experienced firsthand the stress of working full-time while trying to care for my children without outside help.
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 help parents return to the workforce, strengthen our economy, and improve health and education outcomes for our children. We must:
expand eligibility for Montgomery County's public pre-K and Head Start programs
fight for universal pre-K at the state and federal level
As the daughter of two seniors in District 5, it is deeply important to me that all our seniors are able to maximize their independence and quality of life. This includes:
protecting the ability to age in place for those who choose to
increasing access to convenient and affordable healthcare
embedding mental health services in senior living communities and providing proactive community outreach
supporting community-based organizations that support seniors
addressing the skyrocketing premiums of long-term care insurance
expanding door-to-door public transit options
incorporating the safety and enrichment of seniors into policy-making and development decisions
I'm a proud union member (Washington-Baltimore News Guild Local 32025), and as Senior Legislative Advocate at a Democratic nonprofit, I spend my days organizing with labor unions and grassroots advocacy groups. I've also worked as a restaurant server, a barista, and an MCPS teacher.
Economic equity is foundational to many of the issues we face today. And strong unions are a critical part of ensuring workers have the power to demand what they need and deserve. We must:
strengthen and grow labor unions in the public and private spheres
eliminate the tipped and youth sub-minimum wage
raise the minimum wage to a living wage
ensure that taxpayer-funded infrastructure and construction projects use union labor and PLAs (Project Labor Agreements), which aid in projects being completed on time and in budget, while ensuring compliance with health, safety, and wage standards
People with disabilities must 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 and maintained in line with that goal. It's time to:
mandate timelines within which the county is expected to respond to ADA compliance failures
increase funding for sidewalks (currently only four miles is funded annually) and ensure it reaches low-income neighborhoods
work with parents caring for adult children with disabilities to reduce the logistical burdens and red tape they face
Though Montgomery County is not amongst the regions currently having voting rights actively restricted, there is much we can do to increase voter access and become a model for inclusion in the democratic process:
make residency, rather than citizenship, the standard for legal voting, as 11 Maryland municipalities and 6 Montgomery County municipalities have already done
lower the voting age, as municipalities including Takoma Park has done
incorporate optional voter registration into the MCPS high school curriculum
increase the number of early voting sites
implement ranked choice voting