Political party or slate, if any: Team Rockville
Current occupation and employer: Owner of MMP Survey Services LLC. I am a statistician and systems analyst. I help companies and government agencies conduct complex social and economic surveys.
Previous work experience: Mathematica Policy Research Inc.; Westat
Political experience (public offices held and when, as well as other unsuccessful campaigns for office): Eight years as a Rockville councilmember. Ran for mayor in 2007 and 2013.
Campaign contact information (website, email, Facebook, Twitter, other):
1. Why are you the most qualified to hold this position?
I have 8 years of experience on Rockville’s City Council, in which I have taken on the toughest issues. These include Town Center, RedGate Golf Course, stopping 2 bus depot sites, opposing the I-270 widening, development, school capacity, housing, traffic and transportation, and what to do with the King Farm Farmstead.
Many other candidates, indeed, many elected officials, shy away from these issues because they are so hard. But I take them on because that is what we are elected to do. I observe how our laws work in practice and I try to fix them.
2. What are the top two issues in this campaign? What specific ideas do you have to address them?
The top 2 issues are the Town Cente, and housing affordability. They are intertwined.
Town Center, including Town Square within, has struggled for years. The city has at least a $50M investment in Town Square, but that 3-block area struggles.
The Urban Land Institute recently issued a report that made several recommendations. Their most important observation is that the area is overretailed and underpopulated. They suggested that some storefronts could become professional offices. Rockville could incentivize that to happen. Residential density on North Washington and in the Town Square II area would give much needed natural foot traffic to the entire area.
Housing affordability impacts any new home buyer or renter. Housing prices are going through the roof. This is caused in Rockville, and in the county, by residential development moratoria, waiting for school capacity to catch up, but in reality, MCPS is years behind.
I propose that Rockville establish, in its Town Center and areas surrounding Metro, higher school capacity standards. The City does not control school construction. We do control what can be built and when. Right now, we’re not making room for our own children, or for retiring seniors on limited incomes.
3. What has been your biggest accomplishment in office? If you have not held office, what is your biggest accomplishment that has prepared you to hold office?
I have changed the conversation in Rockville, raising the profile of the business community as a natural ally to residents. I have educated people about how the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, as enacted, actually works against its stated goals. It reduces resources for school construction now. Then it causes housing affordability issues now and for the foreseeable future because it causes a housing shortage.
I have also shown people how smart growth near Metro contributes in so many ways, including better environment, more housing, larger tax base, and buildings that generate more housing capacity than students they generate.
4. Have the current mayor and/or council taken any actions with which you disagreed? If so, what is the most significant one and what would you have done instead?
This Mayor and Council, of which I am a member, could not agree on a replacement for Julie Palakovich Carr.
After our initial failure to empanel a fifth member, I twice suggested ways to reopen the process. I was supported in this by Virginia Onley, but Mayor Newton and Councilmember Feinberg did not want to reopen the effort. The latter 2 blamed the process and wanted to conduct some of the selection process behind the scenes. But it was a process that the 4 of us had agreed on. There was no law prohibiting us from modifying the process.
5. What went wrong with RedGate Golf Course? How should the property be used next?
RedGate failed because supporters could not accept cultural and economic changes that have challenged many golf courses. Several years ago, Rockville could have allowed the Montgomery Revenue Authority to run the course. Had we accepted, RedGate would be operating today.
Thirty to 40 acres should return to nature. We need some athletic ball fields. I support the use of 25 to 30 acres for a veterans’ home. We should sell the rest for an attractive neighborhood to provide homes and use the proceeds to invest in King Farm Farmstead and to fund a major attraction for our Town Center.
6. How would you describe the city’s progress in revitalizing Rockville Town Center? Would you do anything else or instead?
The city is throwing money at Town Center, but is not making real progress. This is a political problem. The foundational step to take is accept more residential density in Town Center. Virginia Onley and I tried to get Town Center included as part of the present 2040 Master Plan process, but we could not get support.
The Town Center needs a zoning that would allow 4- to 5-story residential buildings along North Washington and other areas. Rockville needs to make the area a Champion Project area, so developers are not discouraged from building homes for our children there.