Issues and Priorities

In it Together

So much of the challenges that face us as a city and as a nation require the same prescription; more involvement by us, and more attention paid to the needs, concerns and desires of the public. For Rockville moving forward, the nature of the city will be defined not by the broad goals, like those expressed in the Rockville 2040 Comprehensive Plan, but in the choices we make and way we pursue our vision. Hard choices, bold choices, only get made when there is a common vision that they are appropriate and needed. On the City Council I will;

  • Work for you as your representative and advocate

  • Increase city outreach and responsiveness

  • Increase representation in city government

As a City Council member, my first and most important job is constituent service, acting as your advocate and conduit to city government and representing your concerns and priorities in voting. I work for you! From the start of my campaign, my biggest goal is to encourage and facilitate greater resident involvement in all the city’s business. You’ll read about my positions and feelings on a range of issues in this website, but they all come with a focus on increasing public participation and involvement.

Outreach is hard work, increasing diversity and inclusivity in city government and decision-making processes is hard work, and I recognize that asking my neighbors with busy lives to give more of their time and energy can be an imposition. That’s why my pledge is to work hard and long to build bridges and to find the mechanisms – like using technology and apps and making sure city meetings move to residents – to make participation less burdensome.

After my election, I will work to increase the City Council to 6 members, four of whom will represent geographic districts, and will work to open municipal voting to all adult residents, regardless of citizenship. As a voter, you deserve to have a dedicated representative on the council. Rockville is a vibrant and growing place thanks to our residents who come from all over the world, many raising their children here, buying homes and committing their lives to this city. They deserve a voice in how it is run.


Rockville100

Current projections are for the City of Rockville to have over 90,000 residents by 2040 and to top 100,000 soon after. How do we add 30,000 people with so little available space in a way that maintains a high quality of life and allows new residents to fully join the Rockville community? Our responses must be urgent and bold, and on the City Council I will;

  • Developing walking, biking and mass transit infrastructure

  • Preserving and expanding neighborhood physical resources to support community life

  • Changing city government to meet increased demands

I will aggressively push for infrastructure to make Rockville bikeable and walkable throughout the city before 2040. Improving a combined biking, walking and mass transit infrastructure – one that is actually used and not just ‘available’ – is a top priority. This requires not thinking of biking and walking as leisure activities but as an equal alternative to a car-centered lifestyle. The benefits of an environment that support and encourage biking and walking are vast; better for mental health, physical health, community cohesion, the environment, cheaper for families and good for business.

To realize these benefits takes real investment in infrastructure. Simply painting a line and stencil of a bike on the road does not create an adequate bike lane. ‘Build it and they will come’ is not a sufficient philosophy - infrastructure must be attractive to users and properly maintained. Proper walking paths include pedestrian amenities like trees for shade, traffic calming to reduce the speed of passing cars and crosswalks set up to meet the needs of pedestrians, not just to mimic car traffic patterns. Bicyclists should have distinct, physically separate, bike lanes. A bikeable city is not one where cyclists should have to include a calculation about the likelihood of catastrophic injury before any trip.

Strong neighborhoods require gathering points and resources for community life. Rockville must identify and preserve parks, green spaces and community centers which allow residents to form connections with their city and their neighbors and access needed resources close to home. This includes making sure that city-funded programs and community-building efforts are spread across the city. Current development efforts, especially along Rockville Pike, are self-contained and isolated buildings that do not integrate their residents into city life. Private developers are increasingly incorporating green spaces into development designs but the scale is to support their own tenants’ needs, not city and neighborhood life. I propose modifying Land Banking systems to strategically acquire land for public use to fill in the gaps of existing city lands and privately maintained spaces.

For the City of Rockville, challenge of responding to a massive increase in the number of homes, cars, and residents is heaped upon current challenges like dealing with a much larger elderly population and a youth populations that leave our schools bursting at the seams. City government needs to change the way it works and is organized in order to continue meeting the needs of residents. To start, a larger council of 6, with 4 members responsible to specific districts of the city. Rockville must seek out and embrace new technologies to augment two-way communications with community members, and embrace data-informed work systems and decision making as keys to efficiency.


There’s an app for that

I have been able to work in cities that embrace technology as a means of serving and communicating with residents. Need to report a pothole or illegal dumping? Open the app, take a picture and send. Water bill due next week? Receive a text reminder to avoid late payments and fees. Public works or licensing hearing that may be of interest to neighbors? Why depend only on a visit to our website when we can send a notification directly to you for no real cost? As a member of the City Council I will push to;

  • Develop a comprehensive technology-based communications strategy

  • Use city technologies to create a virtual volunteer marketplace

  • Embrace data reporting and metrics development

I appreciate the city newsletter and website, recognizing that for many residents these will always be the most comfortable means of communication. For many of our residents these methods do not match how they communicate on a daily basis. With a city that has the resources and surrounding expertise of Rockville, we should expect leadership in the integration of technology for city activities. An app not only to report problems but receive summaries of proposed legislation or policies, with a public forum to allow resident input without having to show up at meetings. Text notifications of significant events or deadlines can improve turnout and lessen delinquencies or even fines.

City apps are in a unique position to connect residents and I will seek the development of a volunteer marketplace using city technology. In addition to student community service hours, a large number of residents are eager to help those around them. Many of our residents have needs for assistance that would be gladly met by their neighbors if only they were known. For elderly residents, this marketplace not only helps meet immediate needs, like the shoveling of snow, but can help combat the social isolation that is too often a part of aging. For all residents who take part there is a greater connection to their city and a greater likelihood of seeing familiar faces in the community.

Cities that embrace communications technology also embrace data and metrics to transparently track and assess government activities. As the voters’ and residents’ representative I will demand transparent reporting of data and the development of outcome-based metrics for city activities. Does the City of Rockville have a gender wage gap in the city workforce? We cannot end it if we don’t know it exists and as city business, it is everyone’s business. Is access to recreational resources evenly distributed through the city? Are complaints of police conduct on the decline? Elected officials set expectations for accountability and performance and I have the familiarity with data collection and assessment to know what answers should be available and ask the right questions. Using these tools will result in a city government that is more efficient, cost effective, and responsive.


Lean and Green

We face no greater challenge than climate change and the impending consequences. The ability for profound impacts at the city level are scarce but we have an obligation to identify and incorporate green policies and practices into all aspects of city government. Lean and green means reducing waste, preparing for the impacts of climate change, reducing carbon footprint and supporting carbon-neutral or ameliorative activities. Some activities will be simple to identify – a preference for electric or hybrid fleet vehicles, planting native trees to shade pedestrian routes – many more will require the full participation and ideas by city workers and employees. It is a generational challenge to re-think how our communities and cities can sustainably address climate change. On the City Council I will push to;

  • Develop a comprehensive Green plan for ALL city functions

  • Develop a forecast of anticipated costs due to climate change

  • Foster resident-led initiatives and incentives to develop green governance practices

The model for a national response is there, and it involves all of us taking part. For the city addressing practical questions about how to mitigate costs from the impact of climate change need to be part of all planning; from increased air-conditioning cost, to clean up after increasingly intense storms and the need to maintain water service with increasing stresses on infrastructure and more variation in water availability.

Of equal importance is how can we identify and incorporate efforts to reduce human impacts on the environment? How do we effectively encourage eco-friendly transportation options, provide incentives for green business practices and incorporate environmentally responsible practices into regular city functions; Some of the ideas I will pursue are: bus stops topped by solar panels; green roofs, solar panels or reflective paint on city facilities. Many ideas will come from city residents, especially youth who understand that they will bear the costs and burdens of a planet changing in unpredictable ways. By making green governance a core philosophy and encourage innovative solutions we can hope to do our share in dealing with a changing climate.


Opportunity and Equity

Montgomery County and Rockville provide extraordinary opportunities for residents, but we can always seek to do better. As a city we must identify educational, social, and economic achievement gaps and strive to achieve equitable outcomes, not simply settle for equality of services. The illustration (below) is a great representation of the differences between equality and equity – the first is about resource allocation, the 2nd is about outcomes – do the resources match the need.

Equity vs. EqualityImage from https://www.equitytool.org/equity/ 

In order to identify how to achieve equity, it is critical that we have diverse and inclusive participation in the running of the city. I may know a lot, but libraries are full of things I don’t know, and none of us know as much as all of us. Diversity and inclusion is an area in which failed efforts are too often accepted as ‘good enough because we tried.’ It is up to the city to find the mechanisms to which people respond and to be judged by outcomes, not efforts. On the City Council I will;

  • Identify and address achievement gaps

  • Work ceaselessly to insure full representation and input

  • Review city policies to identify and reduce or eliminate
    punitive fines and penalties

  • Prioritize affordability for individuals and small
    and independent businesses

  • Establish a business-incubator for service-based
    and light industrial startups

Even with a high-quality professional job, living in Rockville as a single co-parent was financially daunting for many years, sometimes requiring a second job. City policies must account for their impact on those who do not enjoy the luxury of a white-collar full-time job with benefits. We should re-examine our fine structures and penalties to make sure they are not unduly punitive. And I am very aware of the need to hold the local tax burden to as reasonable level as possible.

The city needs to prioritize the widespread availability of affordable and attainable housing throughout all neighborhoods. Rockville cannot be strong if the teachers who work in our schools cannot afford to raise a family here! I trust the vast majority of my neighbors to make good decision and support their rights to build accessory dwelling units as a way to equitably add housing stock for a growing population.

I view the role of city government as supporting the lives of residents and community members. For most of us this includes our jobs. It is important to support an environment in which Rockville’s residents can find employment, acquire goods and services, and create their own business opportunities. I will work with local businesses to further streamline permitting and licensing practices, reduce wait times, and identify other opportunities to support businesses. However, city support for business should be geared toward helping Rockville residents, not special interests.

Benefits should be spread evenly across the city, and it is important to have an economic development infrastructure that recognizes the needs of residents without college degrees and our need for local services. I will work to identify nonprofit partners to develop a business incubator for service-based and light industrial startups; catering and cleaning companies, yard service and construction concerns, etc. And will work to maintain affordable service and light industrial zones within the city.

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